Israel Adesanya, Sean Strickland’s Next Best Fights After UFC 293 Results

Israel Adesanya, Sean Strickland’s Next Best Fights After UFC 293 Results
Alex BallentineSeptember 10, 2023

Israel Adesanya, Sean Strickland’s Next Best Fights After UFC 293 Results

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    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Sean Strickland prepares to face Israel Adesanya of Nigeria during the UFC 293 event at Qudos Bank Arena on September 10, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Sean Strickland joined the ranks of Holly Holm and Matt Serra, pulling off a massive upset and becoming the new middleweight champion at UFC 293. Beating Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision has etched his name in the history books.

    It’s a huge shift in the middleweight division. Outside of Alex Pereira, no one had beaten Adesanya at middleweight and Strickland was not at the top of most people’s list of top candidates to pull it off.

    Now that he’s the champ, the first question everyone is going to have is whether he can hang on to the belt.

    He’s done the unthinkable so everyone’s eyes will be on him moving forward. His first title defense could be must-see TV.

    As for Adesanya, he’s now in unfamiliar territory as a hunter instead of the hunted in the division. Whether he gets an immediate rematch or takes on someone else before jumping back in for the championship becomes an interesting storyline.

    Let’s take a look at what would be best for each fighter.

Strickland: Dricus Du Plessis

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 08: (R-L) Dricus Du Plessis of South Africa punches Robert Whittaker of New Zealand in a middleweight fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    The obvious answer here is that these two will likely run it back. That’s the standard operating procedure for long-time champions and Adesanya likely qualifies despite dropping his belt to Alex Pereira for a brief stint.

    But if we’re talking about what’s best for Strickland, it’s doing what he can to convince the bosses to let him take on a different challenge. Strickland was a massive underdog for a reason. Adesanya is a cerebral striker with multiple layers to his game.

    As we saw with the recent two-fight series between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena, the rematch doesn’t always go so well for the surprise champion.

    Instead, Strickland should campaign for a fight with Dricus Du Plessis. The South African was supposed to fight Adesanya at UFC 293, but he withdrew with an undisclosed injury.

    Both UFC president Dana White and Adesanya expressed frustration with him for pulling out. However, he has earned his shot at the title with a 6-0 record since coming to the UFC in 2020.

    It would still be a massive challenge for Strickland. Du Plessis’ power, strength and size provide an interesting matchup for his volume-based approach.

    Still, it would be better to test those waters than try his hand at matching his performance against the now-former champ.

Adesanya: Rematch with Strickland

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    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: (L-R) Opponents Israel Adesanya of Nigeria and Sean Strickland face off prior to the UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 293 event at Qudos Bank Arena on September 10, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    For Adesanya, there’s no other option. A shocking loss like this generally requires immediate payback.

    As mentioned, Adesanya has proven to be one of the smartest in-cage fighters in the game. His ability to find the right counter-strike is usually on point and it didn’t come through for him this time.

    However, he’s done enough to prove that he deserves a rematch, whether Strickland wants one or not.

    There’s a chance that Adesanya didn’t come into the fight with enough focus. After all, he was talking about whether Dricus Du Plessis or the winner of the Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev fight would be getting the next crack at the title before he had actually defended it against Strickland.

    If all things break well for the former champion he’ll get an immediate chance at redemption. After all, he’s beaten nearly everyone else the UFC could have him fight to earn another shot at the belt.

    With Alex Pereira in the light heavyweight division Adesanya now has a new, legitimate rivalry. The best move for him would be to get the next chapter booked.

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