UFC 293: Five things we learned
UFC 293 ended up being a historic card. The main event will live in history as Sean Strickland pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time as he dominated Israel Adesanya for five rounds. The remainder of the event ended up being memorable as well. The main card featured several highlight-reel finishes and a fun flyweight scrap.
Sean Strickland pulls off a historic upset
In the UFC 293 main event, Sean Strickland made history. Strickland pulled off an upset for the ages as he earned a dominant decision victory over Israel Adesanya. The champion was practically written off prior to the fight taking place. In fairness, I was a part of that. Still, the mass waves of people doubting Strickland just prove how big of an upset this was.
Strickland’s defense looked great over 25 minutes. That is quite the feat considering he was fighting one of the best strikers in the world. This was largely because he did a great job of using his shoulders to block shots and obstruct striking angles. It is worth noting that he made a lot of improvements in his reactions to feints. Those adjustments were even more pronounced later in the fight. Offensively, Strickland landed the bigger and cleaner shots. The first-round knockdown was the best example of that.
At UFC 293, Strickland managed to pull off a result that no one saw coming- a dominant decision. Strickland deserves all the credit in the world for solving the Adesanya puzzle.
Israel Adesanya is slipping
Unfortunately for Adesanya, the large majority of the positives are given to Strickland while the negatives fall on his plate. Personally, my biggest takeaway from UFC 293 is that Adesanya is beginning to slip and regress.
I saw a lot from Adesanya that I did not like, beginning with his inability to make an adjustment. Typically, Adesanya has a great fight IQ and can make improvements as a fight progresses. That was absent at UFC 293 and likely led to his undesirable result. The former champion had the same strategy from the second the fight started to the second the fight closed. If anything, he was less active with volume and feints as the fight went deeper. That is the opposite of what he needed to do to turn things around.
I also hated the visual of Strickland walking Adesanya down for the final 20 seconds of the bout. If you are Adesanya, you need a knockout to win. Strickland was more than willing to trade as the bout ended. Instead, Adesanya backed up and avoided the brawl. In that moment, he avoided his only path to victory. It did not look like he wanted to win. It looked like he just wanted the fight to end.
For what it is worth, Adesanya also looked a touch slower. I do not think that is as big of a deal as my previous criticism, but it should not be ignored.
All things considered, this performance was a far cry from Adesanya’s great night at UFC 287.
Alexander Volkov adds to his win streak
Alexander Volkov saw a positive result at UFC 293 as he earned a submission win over Tai Tuivasa. The heavyweight has now won three consecutive bouts.
Volkov looked great against Tuivasa. On the feet, his long strikes were working and he was able to avoid the power shots of Volkov. Tuivasa was not able to get much going aside from his massive leg kicks. In fairness, those were pretty effective. Still, Volkov was winning the striking battle. On the ground, Volkov was the much better fighter and finished the bout.
Volkov has put himself in a great position. The heavyweight is in an interesting position and things could get wild after Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic fight at UFC 295. Volkov picked a good time to win three consecutive fights.
Manel Kape is a serious threat in the flyweight division
At UFC 293, Manel Kape looked impressive as he earned a decision victory over Felipe dos Santos.
Kape was playing the role of the counter-striker all night. This resulted in him landing quite a few damaging shots as dos Santos looked to get aggressive. If dos Santos was not absurdly tough, Kape would have had another knockout victory on his resume.
If you look at the UFC rankings, you will see the number 10 next to Kape’s name. That is wildly deceiving. Kape is a serious threat to everyone in the flyweight division. That includes the champion. Kape is an explosive and athletic fighter with a ton of power. On top of that, he has serious technical abilities. That is not to say Kape is guaranteed to be the champion, but he has the potential.
Felipe dos Santos deserves a spot in the UFC
Let’s make sure to give Felipe dos Santos some love before this post is over. No, he did not get the win, but he made a good account of himself.
At UFC 293, dos Santos was put in a tough spot for his promotional debut. The 22-year-old saw his Dana White’s Contender Serious bout get canceled after his opponent missed weight. That led to the UFC asking him to fight Kape on short notice.
As we discussed, Kape is a pretty good fighter–dos Santos gave him a fight. For the entire bout, dos Santos pressured and looked for a knockout, leading to him getting hit with some big shots, but he proved to be tough as nails and stayed in the fight.
I am interested to watch dos Santos’ career play out. I am not willing to say he will be anything special, but he will probably provide fans with fun fights.
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