Sean Strickland isn’t supposed to be here, but don’t tell him that.
The gritty veteran beat the odds Saturday at UFC 293 in Sydney, winning a lopsided decision over Israel Adesanya to become the new middleweight champion. Though Strickland has suffered recent losses to Jared Cannonier and Alex Pereira, the old adage of “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man” comes into play here, and as of today, Strickland is the man.
Strickland’s title shot may have been a matter of convenience (presumed No. 1 contender Dricus Du Plessis was unable to make a quick turnaround to face Adesanya after competing two months ago at UFC 290), but when he found himself under the fight night lights, he excelled and performed as though he was out of Adesanya’s league.
All of that adds up to Strickland being our new No. 1 at 185 pounds.
It wasn’t unanimous, which makes sense given that as great as Strickland looked on Saturday, it wasn’t long ago that we viewed him as a reliable journeyman who would never get a crack at a UFC title. Beating Adesanya might make him the undisputed UFC champion, but our panel saw fit to also issue No. 1 votes to Dricus Du Plessis (6-0 in the UFC) and undefeated Bellator champion Johnny Eblen. Discuss.
No matter what happens next for Strickland, whether he immediately drops the belt or rattles off half a dozen title defenses, his name is now forever etched in the history books alongside the likes of Adesanya, Anderson Silva, and Georges St-Pierre as fighters to hold the UFC’s middleweight belt. Chew on that one for a second.
It might not be the greatest upset of all-time, but Strickland’s path to the title is unquestionably one of the most memorable. When it comes to the topic of the kinds of results that encapsulate the sheer chaos of combat sports, no discussion will be complete without mentioning the night that Strickland beat Adesanya.
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Who should be Sean Strickland’s first title defense?
Israel Adesanya rematch
Dricus Du Plessis
Paulo Costa-Khamzat Chimaev winner
Other (leave comment below)
64 votes total