UFC 293 Picks: Adesanya vs. Strickand 9/10/23

by | Last updated Sep 1, 2023 | mma

UFC 293: Adesanya vs. Strickand Picks
When: Sunday, September 10, 2023
Where: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia

Fight Analysis:

UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, fresh off regaining his title, will defend it against dangerous contender Sean Strickland on September 10 in Sydney. For the New Zealander Adesanya, this will be his first fight in Australia since he won the belt from Aussie Robert Whittaker in 2019, and he should get vocal support against his visiting challenger. But he faces a dangerous test and should have his hands full. Who should we get behind in this fight?

Israel Adesanya, 24-2 (16 KOs), (-500) vs. Sean Strickland, 27-5 (11 KOs, 4 Submissions), (+375)
Israel Adesanya defends his UFC 185-pound belt against contender Sean Strickland in the UFC 293 main event. You’ll see the bout listed as being for Sunday, but that is Australia time, with our friends from Down Under many hours ahead of the USA on the clock. This fight will air stateside on Saturday evening. We get to see one of the top champions in the game in Adesanya face off against a man who has garnered a lot of attention recently, both in and out of the octagon.

Strickland is a well put together middleweight at 6’1” with a 76-inch reach. He will be dealing with deficits in both of those areas against the elongated champion, a massive 6’4” with an 80-inch reach, flabbergasting dimensions for a middleweight. Strickland is two years younger than Adesanya at 32. He is a veteran of the UFC, having his first fight under this banner over nine years ago, starting as a welterweight before becoming a contender at 185 pounds. And generally, he was a winning fighter, going 10-2 between 2015 and 2022.

Strickland’s trajectory to this spot is still a bit odd. In 2022, he sponged a pair of losses to contenders Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier. He managed to right the ship with two wins since, but neither were against 185-pound standouts. It’s a little odd for a fighter with such recent setbacks who did nothing to really reverse those losses to get a shot at the belt. On the other hand, the loss to Cannonier was disputed, and in getting knocked out by Pereira, Strickland lost to the same guy who beat Adesanya for his title, so perhaps there is no great shame in that.

Part of you wonders if there’s something else behind Strickland’s ascent to a title shot in a sport where there are so precious few opportunities to fight for a belt. He’s gotten a lot of attention lately for his talk outside the octagon. He’s a charismatic and vocal guy who creates a lot of controversy when he speaks. This isn’t intended to paint him as anything other than a contender. He is most assuredly that. But maybe creating a stir outside the octagon played a role in earning him this high-profile shot.

Bet on who wins, round, TKO Y/N at Bovada!
And it is a tall order for Strickland. Successful against some good fighters and more run-of-the-mill UFC talent, he has spent nearly a decade never really getting over the hump completely. Granted, this is his first title-try, but he still has never really been able to turn that corner in a way you’d like to see from a contender looking to take that next step. But alas, such is the nature of underdogs. We’ve seen them win belts before, and you usually don’t see it coming until it comes. And after losing to Blachowitz and Pereira, it’s not like Adesanya has some air of invulnerability to him. He can be beaten.

It’s good that being in some main event fights has acclimated Strickland to the 5-round distance, as it is a different level of fighting when you’re in the 4th and 5th rounds against someone this dangerous. His KO loss to Pereira is forgivable being that Pereira did the same thing to the champion and it was the only time Strickland was stopped at 185 pounds in his career. Looking at that fight, it’s easy to question the chin of Strickland, but again, Pereira can do that to anybody, and I don’t think Strickland has shown a weak chin overall.

The issue for Strickland is that he’s taking on an exceptionally-gifted striker, and he’s traveling halfway around the world to do so. Adesanya is a surgeon, using precision strikes that discombobulate his opposition. Strickland isn’t the slickest guy. He’s certainly tough, but he can be found. He’s not terribly elusive, and his striking is neither as lethal nor varied as Adesanya’s, who had a top-flight kickboxing career and now an MMA career that has seen him take on the best for a number of years. You talk about the guys Adesanya has shared the octagon with and beaten, and when the conversation turns to Strickland’s career and his best wins, the name-power really starts to drop off.

Again, one can’t discount Strickland. Sometimes, being tough, dogged, and super-ambitious is enough. I’m expecting a real go-for-it effort from Strickland. It’s just that it’s hard to escape the notion that with Adesanya, you’re dealing with a different animal. Whether it is his edges in athleticism, innate fighting know-how, explosivity, or overall quickness, he is visibly a cut above Strickland as a fighter you want to get behind.

I don’t see this as being a favorable matchup for Strickland. I think a lot of his bluster and steam will be quelled by the edges in quickness and accuracy held by the champion. And while he’ll come on like gangbusters initially, a round or two of absorbing precise strikes from Adesanya will soon make him a little less-edgy, as Adesanya begins to completely control the fight. While I think Strickland just might be tough and good enough to last the distance, being that the champ has seen 6 of his title fights go the full five rounds, I don’t see him pulling this one off. I’ll go with the champion in this one.

My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Israel Adesanya at -500 betting odds. Bet your UFC picks for FREE by scoring a massive 100% real cash bonus on your first deposit of $75 to $300 by entering bonus code PREDICT100 when you sign up and deposit at MyBookie Sportsbook!