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Morning Report: Ben Askren impressed by Sean Strickland’s title win, but it’s not biggest upset ever

UFC 293: Adesanya v Strickland Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images

Sean Strickland overcame sizable odds in Sydney, Australia as the underdog in his first career title fight.

UFC 293 still feels like a pipedream after Strickland flipped the MMA world upside down. The brash Xtreme Couture product’s triumphant unanimous decision win over reigning two-time champion Israel Adesanya was the biggest upset in middleweight title fight history per oddsmakers, with Strickland cashing in as the +500 underdog.

Overall, Strickland’s odds register in the history books as a top 10 all-time upset and ties as No. 6 in title fights next to Rose Namajunas’ first-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2017. Many fans and pundits throughout the community have labeled the win as the new biggest upset. Former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight titlist Ben Askren was supremely impressed with “Tarzan’s” showing but still ranks it below the official No. 1 title fight upset of the +830 Holly Holm dethroning the -1400 bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in 2015. The latter coincidentally also took place in Australia.

“I don’t think this one tops Holly Holm over Ronda Rousey as the biggest upset of all time and I think from a betting standpoint, that pencils also,” Askren said on Funky & The Champ. “I would look foolish, which happens sometimes, because I said, ‘I don’t see how Sean Strickland’s gonna win.’ Because I thought Sean Strickland was gonna what Sean Strickland did, which was try to walk him down and box him up. I thought there’s no way he’s gonna do that for 25 minutes without getting clipped. Because ‘Izzy’s’ got a lot of weapons. The fact that he would be able to do it for 25 minutes and not get clipped was so impressive.

“It was so impressive because ‘Izzy’s’ tricky, he’s fast, he has a lot of tools and Strickland shut everything down.”

Strickland wouldn’t have been as well prepared for his big moment if he wasn’t as active as he’s been since rejoining the middleweight division in 2020. The new champion has fought five times since July 2022, going 3-2 (28-5 overall, 15-5 in UFC). Strickland made it clear in his UFC 293 post-fight press conference that he’ll defend against whoever the promotion puts in front of him. Of the likeliest options, Strickland can expect his first title defense to be an immediate rematch with Adesanya, top-ranked contender Dricus Du Plessis, or the winner of UFC 294’s Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev matchup next month.


Analysis. Dricus du Plessis: UFC 293 was ‘worst’ Israel Adesanya we’ve ever seen in the cage

Scare. Sean Strickland coach thought UFC 293 title fight was off after Strickland allegedly punched fan

Future. Robert Whittaker calls it ‘silly’ if Israel Adesanya gets immediate Sean Strickland rematch

Aftermath. Dana White still puzzled about Israel Adesanya’s reaction to UFC 293 loss

Rivals. Dana White blasts Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture for past UFC dealings: ‘Two guys that absolutely tried to destroy the company

Gold. Junior dos Santos says he’s fighting winner of Alan Belcher vs. Roy Nelson for Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA title in 2024


The MMA Hour.

Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2 preview.

UFC Connected: Jack Della Maddalena.

Free fight.

Bellator 301.

Heavyweight rematch.

Full fights.

Breaking down Grasso vs. Shevchenko 2.


No Bets Barred. MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew and Conner Burks discuss if Valentina Shevchenko can reclaim the flyweight title or does Alexa Grasso have her number?






Runway Jorge.







Bold prediction.



Poster game always on point.

He’s just everywhere.

Fight week.


As he would.

Wtf is right.


Jihin Radzuan (8-3) vs. Jenelyn Olsim (6-4); ONE Fight Night 14, Sept. 29

Said Nurmagomedov (17-3) vs. Muin Gafurov (18-5); UFC 294, Oct. 21

Vugar Karamov (19-4) vs. Chihiro Suzuki (11-3); RIZIN Landmark 7, Nov. 4

Tofiq Musayev (21-5) vs. Koji Takeda (15-5); RIZIN Landmark 7, Nov. 4

Mehman Mamedov (6-6) vs. Justin Scoggins (15-6); RIZIN Landmark 7, Nov. 4

Yaroslav Amosov (27-0) vs. Jason Jackson (16-4); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Sergio Pettis (23-5) vs. Patchy Mix (18-1); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (25-11) vs. Alexander Shabliy (23-3); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Raufeon Stots (19-2) vs. Danny Sabatello (14-3); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Daniel James (15-7-1) vs. Ali Isaev (9-0-1); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Tyrell Fortune (13-3) vs. Marcelo Golm (10-4); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Timur Khizriev (13-0) vs. Justin Gonzales (14-2); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Mike Hamel (11-5) vs. Tim Wilde (16-4-1); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Denise Kielholtz (7-5) vs. Sumiko Inaba (6-0); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Islam Mamedov (22-3-1) vs. Killys Mota (15-3); Bellator 301, Nov. 17

Kayla Harrison (15-1) vs. Julia Budd (17-6); PFL 2023 Championship, Nov. 24


Well, looks like Bellator will keep on kicking, eh? 301 is off to a wonderful start.

Thanks for reading!



Who do you favor in an instant rematch?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Sean Strickland
    (225 votes)
  • 38%
    Israel Adesanya
    (141 votes)
366 votes total Vote Now

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