Sean Strickland is the new UFC middleweight champion after beating Israel Adesanya in an emphatic fight early Sunday, September 10.
In what came as a huge shock, the polarising Strickland – ranked fifth in the middleweight division – won by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC293 in Sydney, Australia.
After a gruelling five rounds at the sold-out Qudos Bank Arena, the cards read (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) in favour of the American.
Strickland landed 137 stinging strikes compared to Adesanya’s 94, having the hot favourite on the back foot throughout.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be here,” said Strickland, who inflicted New Zealander Adesanya’s third defeat from 27 fights.
“I thought I would be walking away a little broken up. I’m a little shocked that didn’t happen. This is the first time I’m lost for words.”
Israel Adesanya speaks after defeat
Known to shoot from the hip, Strickland caused controversy ahead of the fight with misogynistic comments about putting women back in the kitchen.
He agreed to the fight on late notice after Adesanya’s South African rival Dricus du Plessis was unavailable.