The UFC returns to Australia for UFC 293 this weekend with a huge middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland serving as the main event.
Adesanya defends the belt for the first time since recapturing it after a stunning knockout win over long-time rival Alex Pereira, while Strickland gets his first attempt to win the gold on the back of a two-fight win streak.
We’ll take a look at the fight and break down the match-up between these two fighters before providing you with our best free UFC betting picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while you watch the action.
UFC 293 Israel Adesanya-650-650-666Sean Strickland+475+425+422
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UFC 293 information
Saturday, September 9th 2023
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia
Middleweight championship (185-pounds)
5 x 5 minute rounds
22:00 ET main card start time
Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland
“The Last Stylebender” reclaimed his throne as the best 185-pound fighter in mixed martial arts with a stunning performance last time out to become a two-time middleweight world champion.
Adesanya knocked out Pereira in the second-round of their rematch, having lost the title in their first MMA bout when he was knocked out in the fifth round despite being ahead on the scorecards.
Prior to that he had won six middleweight title fights in a row, defeating Robert Whittaker to win the title and then defending successfully against Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori and Jared Cannonier. His attempt to claim gold at 205-pounds was met with resistance, as he was beaten by Jan Blachowicz in the middle of that impressive run.
His career record stands at 24-2 with 16 knockout wins professionally.
Strickland returned to the octagon following a string of injuries and a two-year lay off in 2020 and strung together a five-fight win streak against top opposition like Jack Marshman (unanimous decision), Brendan Allen (TKO), Krzysztof Jotko (unanimous decision), Uriah Hall (unanimous decision) and Jack Hermansson (split decision).
That put him in a number one contender fight against Alex Pereira, where he was flattened in the first-round by a huge left hook. He then took on Cannonier after that and dropped a split decision, putting him at the back of the queue.
He has since bounced back with a decision win over Nassourdine Imavov before a TKO win over Abusupiyan Magomedov to set up this bout with Adesanya.
His professional MMA record stands at 27-5 with 11 knockout wins.
Route to victory
Stylistically this is a carbon copy of the fight when Strickland took on Pereira, and we all know how that went.
Adesanya is arguably an even better kickboxer than Pereira is, as proven by their match-ups in the sport and in MMA despite the Brazilian having more wins than losses in their rivalry. Strickland will know that, but his comments in the past don’t strike confidence into anyone who is hoping for an upset.
Strickland admitted that he shouldn’t have tried to march down Pereira in their match-up and should have wrestled and kept his distance, but also said that if he ever got the chance for a rematch then he’d still do exactly the same thing.
This is probably the closest he’ll get to a rematch, and against someone better, so if he does the same thing we can expect a similar result.
Strickland is a fantastic grappler and has good wrestling, while his cardio is incredibly impressive. If he wants to win this fight, he must implement that strategy because on his feet he is out-gunned massively.
As for Adesanya his game plan is the same in every fight. Manage distance, control the tempo, land leg kicks and counter strike when the opportunity presents itself while using his jab to score points in the process.
He’s proven he has the power to put guys out if they give him the chance, and if Strickland isn’t playing games with his words then he will get that chance here again.
to beat Israel Adesanya
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UFC Picks: Statement made
Adesanya knew he had to make a statement in his last bout against Pereira and he did exactly that with a stunning knockout.
Strickland will no doubt try to use forward pressure to crowd “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 293 and if he looks to grab him then he will likely have a good chance of causing some damage.
But in his home continent, the character and showman that Izzy is will mean he wants to put on a show for the fans and prove he is the best in the world in style.
Adesanya will probably start conservatively to download the information he needs and make his reads, but the second and third rounds you can expect him to really turn up the heat and go for the kill.
With his accuracy and speed, mixed in with Strickland’s lazy defense and poor game plan for the fight, Adesanya should be able to land the killer blow and make sure this fight doesn’t go the distance at some point in those middle rounds.
Israel Adesanya via TKO/KO
to beat Sean Strickland
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