By femi Atolagbe
Sean Strickland claimed one of the most stunning upset title victories in MMA history when he outpointed Israel Adesanya in a middleweight championship match at UFC 293, held at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, yesterday.
Nigerian-born Adesanya was regarded as the overwhelming favourite against Strickland, who has been seen as somewhat of an also-ran in the division in recent years, and was only given this opportunity when South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis (the original slated opponent for this title bout) was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Strickland’s victory was based on putting Adesanya under relentless pressure and nullifying the champion’s usual precise kick-boxing. In fact, ‘Tarzan’ nearly forced a stoppage with a flurry of strikes in Round 1.
‘The Last Stylebender’ survived and enjoyed a better showing in Round 2, though that seemed to be more due to Strickland’s dropping his pace and conserving his energy somewhat. Through Rounds 3, 4 and 5, Adesanya never gained any sense of control, allowing Strickland to continue to move forward and nullify the champion’s offence. In the end, Strickland was announced “and new middleweight champion of the world” with a unanimous decision triumph – 49-46 on all three judges’ score cards.