UFC middleweight king Israel Adesanya will defend his title in Sydney, Australia this week against brash American Sean Strickland. Adesanya and Strickland are different personalities and they have clashed during fight week which has only added to the excitement surrounding the card.
Since entering the UFC in 2018, Adesanya has built a record of 13-2 and despite only competing in MMA’s premium promotion for five years, he is now considered by many to be the greatest middleweight of all time. When you glance through the record of Adesanya, it’s hard not to be impressed by the names he has wins over. Elite operators like Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa have all fell victim to the champion but it’s his ability to bounce back from defeat that has defined his reign.
In late 2022, ‘Stylebender’ was knocked out by Alex Pereira, a man who had defeated him twice already under kickboxing rules and the consensus was he would never be able to beat Pereira, regardless of which rules the fight was fought under. However, Adesanya doesn’t think or act like most people. His mentality was to get straight back into a fight with Pereira and in April 2023, he got his revenge by knockout out Pereira in two rounds and cementing his place at the top of the middleweight division.
Sean Strickland will start as the underdog this weekend but that’s exactly how he likes it. The 32-year-old has been in the UFC since 2014 but he has been fighting his whole life and is most comfortable when the octagon door closes. He is a divisive figure and has managed to get under the skin of the champion with his constant slurs. The trash talking steals the headlines when Strickland is present and it’s easy to forget he has a very dangerous skillset.
Israel Adesanya is the more talented athlete between the two but Sean Strickland is a man that thrives on chaos and if he can turn this into a fight, rather than an MMA contest, his chances of emerging victorious dramatically improve. The challenge for Adesanya will be not to fight with his ego against a man who has spent month’s baiting him, if the champion can do that, he has all the skills to make this an easy night’s work.
Logically, Israel Adesanya should win this fight any way he likes but MMA is not a sport where logical things happen so he will need to respect the danger he has in front of him as a defeat against Strickland would be catastrophic at this stage of his career. However, the champion is experienced enough to not make emotional mistakes and although this could be close early, he should close the show in the later rounds. Israel Adesanya by KO/TKO is the play here. (21/20).
In the co-main event, Sydney born heavyweight Tai Tuivasa takes on UFC veteran Alexander Volkov as he looks to break a two-fight losing skid in front of his home crowd. In contrast, Volkov is riding a two-fight winning streak and will be looking to hold his place in the UFC top ten.
As with all heavyweights, these two men carry unnatural power so it’s hard to see this fight going the distance. Volkov starts as the deserved favourite but Tuivasa will be dangerous, especially in front of his home crowd. Charged up by that home crowd, Tuivasa will go for it from the opening bell and while that makes him dangerous, it always makes him vulnerable against an experienced man like Alexander Volkov. It’s hard to predict a winner but the fight to have less than one completed round at (11/8) makes some appeal.
BACK Israel Adesanya to win by KO/TKO 3pts at 21/20 (⭐
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BACK Less than one completed round in Tuivasa vs Volkov 1pt at 11/8 (⭐
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