Nigeria-born New Zealander Israel Adesanya suffered a shocking defeat against Sean Strickland, on Sunday morning in the middleweight title fight at UFC 293 in Sydney Australia.
Strickland, 32, who was a late replacement for the injured South African contender Dricus du Plessis pressed relentlessly over five rounds to deny the ‘style bender’ a victory.
ADULAWO NEWS reports that
With Adesanya also fondly called ‘Izzy’ already having beaten fellow top contenders Jared Cannonier and Marvin Vettori, the opportunity was handed to Strickland, who is fifth in the middleweight rankings.
The fight was Adesanya’s 11th fight after his July victory over Robert Whittaker.
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The UFC fight started on a rather low level but sparked to life when Strickland dropped Adesanya with a clean right hand, sparking the contest at the Octagon into life.
Strickland came into the bout on the back of two wins, while Adesanya was making the first defence of his second title reign after emphatically beating long-term rival Alex Pereira earlier in the year.
ADULAWO NEWS reports that Adesanya valiantly battled on until the end of the round despite Strickland’s knock-down.
Adesanya started to land more consistently in the second round, peppering the challenger with leg kicks, but Strickland, as he would for the remaining rounds, continued to be the aggressor.
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And despite consistently pushing forward against the slick Adesanya, Strickland was able to avoid the majority of the champion’s retaliation on Sunday morning.
Halfway through the bout, Strickland’s corner sensed their fighter could be on course for victory, asking for more urgency, adding “we didn’t come all this way to lose a decision”.
Strickland continued to press for the remainder of the fight, using his jab effectively, with Adesanya on the back foot and unable to inflict any meaningful damage in response.
As the fight ended, Strickland raised his arms in celebration, confident of victory, while a dejected-looking Adesanya walked over to his corner.
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After the judges announced Strickland as the winner, Adesanya embraced the emotional American, before raising his hand in victory.
The victory means Strickland has won his maiden UFC title in his first championship bout, recording the 28th win of his 33-fight career.