Israel Adesanya finally knows his next task at hand.
The UFC returns to Australia for the second time in 2023 with UFC 293 on Sept. 9, the promotion’s first show in Sydney since November 2017. It took a bit longer than usual for the event’s headliner to be locked in, but the middleweight title will be on the line as planned. The challenger just won’t be the originally expected Dricus Du Plessis, who is tending to a foot injury while Sean Strickland takes his place to try and dethrone Adesanya.
Before Du Plessis’ big upset TKO of Robert Whittaker at UFC 290, the South African was viewed as an easy title defense for “The Last Stylebender.” Surely still an underdog ahead of a potential clash, “Stillknocks” closed the gap with his performance whereas Strickland widened it for his matchup as a +300 underdog at present, per BestFightOdds. Despite the expected outcome of victory, Adesanya isn’t taking Strickland as lightly as everyone else.
“I never underestimate anyone,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I was just thinking about [Michael] Bisping vs. [Luke] Rockhold  when Bisping finally beat him, took the fight on like 1.5 weeks’ notice or something, two weeks’ notice. Goes in there, shocks the world. That’s a possible reality. My job is to make sure it’s not in this reality. That’s another parallel universe, another timeline. So like, yeah. I’m very aware of the dangers that he brings and the stuff that he’s really good at.
“I don’t take this lightly. You guys will see me, see I’ve been working. I’m not underestimating this guy but at the same time, I’m not overestimating him. I want to make this look easy. I’m gonna make this look easy cause of the work that we’re doing right now and the way that I’m working right now. I just know.”
It’s no secret that Strickland is as fearless as they come with his words or actions, whether in or out of the octagon. Sometimes that’s to his detriment as evidenced in recent losses to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier, highlighted more by the former. In the end, Adesanya sees the loose-cannon nature of his upcoming challenger as an advantage.
“He’s got a nice guard, he’s got a good jab, and to be honest, [he’s] just crazy,” Adesanya said. “He’s crazy. That’s the X-factor. But again, so am I (laughs).”
Strickland’s Pereira pairing in July 2022 was the closest he and Adesanya have gotten before being officially matched. A win would have earned “Tarzan” a title shot and the two verbally sparred at the UFC 276 pre-fight press conference where Adesanya was tasked with Cannonier. Strickland suffered a first-round knockout loss while Adesanya earned a unanimous decision.
The pre-fight build-up is expected to get unhinged as fight week approaches and that’s a part of the fun for some. Ultimately, Adesanya doesn’t feel bothered by any of the possible barbs he’ll continue to find himself berated with.
“Just some loudmouth talking over and louder than you to try and seem like he’s got something to say,” Adesanya said. “He has nothing to say, really. He just wants to, again, I know the guy. I’ve seen him. I’ve pressed him before. He’s not — it’s for show. I just know what it is. That’s why people are excited for the press conference because that’s his spot to shine, I guess but I can rap too. I just decide when I use my mouth and when I don’t.
“If he’s talking to me [mid-fight] he’s gonna get his jaw broken. When you’re talking, you’re not focused on the task at hand. Look at [Paulo] Costa, ‘Come on, ‘Izzy.’’ I was physically talking to him. I didn’t use my words, I used body language with Costa. Verbally, I don’t gotta say s***. My work will do the talking and he’ll feel me.” I hope he talks to me because he’ll get his jaw broken.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Good looks, champ.
I think this belt suits me pic.twitter.com/iGzYBGVhAu— Vugar Karamov (@vugar_karamov) August 12, 2023
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Thanks for reading!
Last Week’s Results:
Thursday: 66% of 680 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Will Dricus Du Plessis have to win one more fight before challenging for the UFC middleweight title?”
Wednesday: 54% of 636 total votes answered “Vicente Luque” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Luque defeated Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision in UFC Vegas 78’s main event.
Monday: 70% of 657 total votes answered “No” when asked, “If healthy, is T.J. Dillashaw still a title threat at bantamweight?”
Today’s exit poll:
Will Sean Strickland try and grapple with Israel Adesanya?
This poll is closed