clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sean Strickland downplays UFC 293 upset of Israel Adesanya: ‘I run my mouth a lot, and people forget I can fight’

Sean Strickland reminded everyone that he’s championship material at UFC 293.

The controversial Strickland scored the biggest win of his career Saturday in Sydney, Australia, out-striking Israel Adesanya for five rounds to earn a unanimous decision and become the UFC middleweight champion. It was the seventh win in nine fights for Strickland since returning to the 185-pound division.

At times, it didn’t look as though that success would translate into a future title win, but Strickland proved that he more than belonged in his title fight with Adesanya.

“I think I’m one of the best strikers in the world,” Strickland said at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “Anytime you’re doing the man dance you’re one punch away from being knocked out, but I can spar with any world champion boxer and get the better of them. I don’t know, I just think I’m one of the best strikers in the world.

“Let me say this, I watched him fight Kelvin [Gastelum] and he was like, ‘You don’t have a chin like Kelvin. You might have his cardio.’ I’m like, chin like Kelvin, motherf******, last time I sparred Kelvin the coach jumped in and made us stop. You have no f****** idea. I’ve seen the guys you’ve beat and you should see me spar the guys you’ve beat motherf*****, no idea. I just think sometimes I run my mouth so much that people forget that I know how to fight.”

One reason that Strickland was such a polarizing choice to face Adesanya at UFC 293 was because of his controversial public persona that regularly sees him making offensive comments on social media and in interviews. For the most part, Strickland was on his best behavior during fight week, though he didn’t shy away from trading verbal jabs with Adesanya at the pre-fight press conference this past Thursday.

So did all the talk make Adesanya underestimate him?

“Apparently so,” Strickland answered when the question was posed to him. “I feel like the guy didn’t even try, there were moments where was throwing punches where I’m like, ‘Am I fighting an amateur right now? What the f*** is going on?’ But yeah, I think I run my mouth a lot and people forget I can fight, but here we are, you’re going to have to talk to me for a little bit longer. Sorry about that.”

Strickland was a near 5-to-1 underdog heading into Saturday’s contest, making him one of the biggest UFC title fight long shots in recent memory. Where his upset ranks among the biggest of all time remains to be seen, but there’s no question that he proved a vast swath of prognosticators wrong with the win.

And they’re not the only ones.

“F***, I think I proved myself wrong,” Strickland said. “F***, you watch Izzy go and f*** everybody up and you walk through him pretty easily, it’s kinda weird. Kinda weird. Just a weird day, guys, a weird f****** day. Weird day. Here we are.”

Adesanya was coming off a loss to longtime rival Alex Pereira at UFC 287 in an immediate rematch from their UFC 281 encounter, so it’s possible that the matchmakers will be skittish about granting the two-time champion another instant run-back. There are several intriguing middleweight contenders waiting in the wings including Dricus Du Plessis and the winner of the upcoming UFC 294 clash between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev.

Asked if he was interested in having his first defense against Adesanya, Strickland shrugged off the suggestion since he feels he won’t have much say in the matter when the time comes to make the call.

“There’s the thing,” Strickland said. “If I’ve learned anything about the UFC, it’s since when do you have a f****** choice of who you fight? The UFC never comes up and says, ‘Hey Sean, would you like to fight this guy or would you like to fight this guy?’ The UFC says, ‘Hey, you’re fighting this guy. Fight this guy.’ So at the end of the day, I’m the champion, f****** line them up, I’ll knock them down or get knocked down.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting