Sean Strickland defied the odds at UFC 293, delivering a picture-perfect performance that saw him leave The Land Down Under as a world champion.
Stepping into the main event spotlight for his first shot at UFC gold, Strickland was sitting as a 7-to-1 underdog going against perhaps the greatest middleweight in the history of the sport, Israel Adesanya. Nobody expected him to walk out of the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, but that’s exactly what happened after he laid it on ‘The Last Stylebender’ for 25 minutes.
Two hours after his stunning performance inside the Octagon, Strickland sat down in front of members of the media at the UFC 293-post-fight press event. Never one to be shy about his struggles growing up in an abusive home, Strickland was asked how that experience may have played a role in his success on Saturday night. Responding, ‘Tarzan’ delivered a tongue-in-cheek response, saying:
“Thank God for child abuse, right? Fuck yeah. Let’s go, childhood traumas or repressed memories… You got me where I needed to be… Dad, you’re f*cking awesome man. All the years of abuse, you really… You really made me the man I had to be today,” Strickland said with a chuckle.“
Sean Strickland Credits the UFC with Saving His Life
Taking a more serious tone, Strickland offered his appreciation to the UFC for giving individuals like him a platform.
“I don’t f*cking know, you guys. I’m just happy that this f*cking world has a place for us, you know? If it wasn’t for this, man, I’m sure I would’ve f*cking committed some random act of violence and f*cking been locked up for killing somebody, so f*cking huzzah to UFC man. Thank you for f*cking saving someone’s life, including my own” (h/t MMA News).
After waking up on Sunday morning realizing that Sean Strickland’s five-round shellacking of Israel Adesanya wasn’t a crazy fever dream, many fight fans were quick to ask, what’s next? According to Dana White, an immediate rematch is in order, but that doesn’t seem to be a popular option among fans considering Adesanya is now 1-2 in his last three and lost decisively against the No. 5 ranked contender in the world.
Much of what comes next will rely on Israel Adesanya. Based on White’s comments at the post-fight press event, Adesanya has a rematch waiting for him if he wants it. Should ‘The Last Stylebender’ opt to take some time off and re-evaluate, Sean Strickland’s first defense will likely come against top-ranked contender Dricus Du Plessis. No. 3 ranked contender Jared Cannonier also presents an interesting possibility considering he holds a win over Strickland.
What direction do you see the middleweight division going after UFC 293‘s shocking result?