UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya put on his psychologist hat to try and get into the mind of UFC 293 opponent Sean Strickland, and without hesitation, Adesanya shared what he saw in their first interaction.
“Sean’s very insecure,” Adesanya told The Mac Life. “You only have one first impression, and if you want to be a tough guy, make it the first impression. [My] first impression: He’s a b****.”
Adesnaya and Strickland will battle for the middleweight title in the main event of Saturday’s pay-per-view card in Sydney. The rivalry stems from the UFC 276 press conference in July 2022, where Adesanya was scheduled to face Jared Cannonier in the main event, while Strickland was getting ready to face Alex Pereira.
Both men went back-and-forth verbally before cooler heads eventually prevailed. Adesanya went on to successfully defend his title that night, while Strickland was knocked out in the first round.
Now that their paths have led to the octagon on Saturday, Adesanya recalls that infamous press conference during the 2022 International Fight Week, and what he took away from it heading into their clash this Saturday.
“I didn’t mean to make him a b****, I was just like, ‘Hey, what’s up buddy? How are you doing?’ He was like, ‘Oh, don’t do me like your boy [Paulo] Costa,’ and then gets on stage and was like, ‘I’ll come [down] there right now.’
“That’s why when he tries to do this s*** to me now, it doesn’t work.”
Strickland continuously tapped into Adesanya’s love for anime, along with the champion painting his nails. Adesanya recently told MMA Fighting that he plans to paint his nails, and then go on to “knock him out with my painted nails” on Saturday.
On top of that, Adesanya plans to add a bit more flare to the event, most notably in the aftermath of the fight.
“I’m going to break my nails on his face,” Adesanya said. “For me, the guy is insecure. I’ve dealt with him behnd the cameras, he’s very insecure, comes up with a lot of stuff, but that’s a him problem not a me problem. I know who I am, and I’ve done the work on myself. I don’t give a f***.
“I’ve got to knock him out, just so I can do a TikTok dance over his grave.”