Israel Adesanya begins his second stint as middleweight champion on Saturday when he faces Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 293. The event will take place from the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
After suffering a dramatic knockout loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281, Adesanya returned to score his own knockout over Pereira to regain the championship at UFC 287. This victory was Adesanya’s first against Pereira after also lost twice to his rival in kickboxing.
It looked like Adesanya would make the first defense of his new reign against Dricus Du Plessis, but Du Plessis was unavailable for UFC 293, allowing Strickland to get called up thanks to two straight wins.
“He’s talking all this bullshit, but he should be grateful. I bought him his first passport. I gave him his first flight out of his country. I gave him this fight for a lot of money,” Adesanya said during of the final press conference this week. . “He’s trying to act like a tough guy, but there’s no danger with him. He’s this idiot from the back of the class talking because of you and talking loudly just to get his point across.”
Strickland enters his first title fight coming off two straight wins against lesser competition, as he was more or less ruled out of facing top-five fighters due to current matchmaking. Now he has his chance to become champion after training with his great rival in Pereira.
CBS Sports will also live stream the fight with turn-by-turn scoring and move-by-move updates to keep you informed throughout the night.
“Sometimes you should say no…but at the end of the day, opportunities never come when you want them to,” Strickland told CBS Sports. “You never wake up and say, ‘Today is a great day! I’m ready for good things to happen to me in life.’
“Usually someone you love is dying or you just got fired or the IRS is sending you letters. Usually your life is a complete shit show and you’ll have a little glimmer of hope. , “Hey, man. You can risk everything and have this opportunity. “Usually, people who do that are the ones who succeed in life.”
While this card is sorely lacking in big names or depth, there are still a few notable matchups that could produce some fun results. The heavyweights clash in the co-main event where Tai Tuivasa takes on Alexander Volkov. After fighting his way to a shot at the interim title, Tuivasa came back to Earth with two straight stoppage losses. Now he looks to get back on track against Volkov, who is coming off two knockout victories himself.
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Additionally, flyweight Manel Kape takes on newbie Felipe dos Santos. Kape was expected to face Kai Kara-France in what was supposed to be a massive fight for division title implications. But Kara-France suffered a knockout in training camp and decided to retire from the fight for his own health and safety. Now Kape has to mind his business in hopes of continuing to climb the ranks at 125 pounds.
With so much happening Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds before we get to our staff’s predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.
UFC 293 fight card, odds
- Israel Adesanya -700 vs. Sean Strickland +500, middleweight title
- Alexander Volkov -250 vs. Tai Tuivasa +205, heavyweights
- Manel Kape -420 vs. Felipe Dos Santos +320, flyweight
- Justin Tafa -220 vs. Austen Lane +180, heavyweight
- Anton Turkalj -115 vs. Tyson Pedro -105, light heavyweight
- Carlos Ulberg -300 vs. Da Woon Jung +240, light heavyweights
- Jack Jenkins -205 vs. Chepe Mariscal +170, featherweight
- Jamie Mullarkey -270 vs. John Makdessi +220, lightweights
- Nasrat Haqparast -500 vs. Landon Quinones +380, lightweights
- Charlie Radtke -325 vs. Mike Diamond +250, welterweight
- Shane Young -115 vs. Gabriel Miranda -105, featherweight
- Kevin Jousset -165 vs. Kiefer Crosbie +140, welterweight
With such a massive main event coming up, the CBS Sports team has moved forward with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your picks: Brent Brookhouse (combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise ( main editor).
UFC 293 picks and predictions
|Adesanya (c) vs. Strickland||Adesanya||Adesanya||Adesanya||Adesanya||Adesanya|
|Volkov vs. Tuivasa||Volkov||Volkov||Volkov||Tuivasa||Volkov|
|Kape versus dos Santos||Kape||Kape||Kape||Kape||Kape|
|Tafa vs. Lane||Tafa||Tafa||Tafa||Tafa||Tafa|
|Pedro vs. Turkalj||Rock||Rock||Rock||Rock||Rock|
|Records to date (2023)
Adesanya vs. Strickland
Campbell: Strickland is talking about a good game and seems to have the major league cardio after going the distance of five rounds in four of his last six fights. But he’s a major underdog here for a reason. Without great power, a sturdy chin, or a dominant wrestling game, Strickland simply doesn’t have the ammunition or technical skills required to bother the champion. Worse still, Adesanya is a terrible match in style for him and should be able to counter Strickland’s pressure with the same type of powerful, accurate shots that ‘The Last Stylebender’ used to reclaim his title in April by knocking out Alex Pereira.
Brookhouse: The first thing to ask when predicting a fight is “How does this fighter beat this opponent?” For Strickland, the only answer I can come up with is “Strickland defeats Adesanya with one of the most shocking, out-of-the-box punches in UFC history.” Strickland has no noticeable power beyond the division average and his one-on-one approach is tailor-made for someone like Adesanya, who is one of the elite marksmen in all time in the history of sport. Better wrestlers than Strickland failed to do anything meaningful for Adesanya with takedowns. There’s simply no path to victory for Strickland here that doesn’t involve what amounts to a ‘fluke’.
Mahjouri: I’m not sure what significant threat Strickland poses beyond a lucky punch. Adesanya has defeated better attackers, better grapplers, and more well-rounded fighters. Four weeks isn’t ideal to prepare for, but it’s certainly enough to build a winning strategy. I’ve seen people suggest Strickland could replicate Kelvin Gastelum’s approach to brawling with Adesanya, but that was four years ago. Adesanya has finally figured out how to convert his world-class kickboxing into MMA and won’t be dragged into a firefight with a lesser enemy. The champion will retain via a lackluster stoppage or decision where he neutralizes Strickland.
Volkov vs. Tuivasa
Campbell: Tuivasa should have plenty of motivation after two losses and an unusual 10-month layoff. But as long as he continues to go all-or-nothing with his brawling style, this is a fight the bigger and more technical Volkov should be able to win. Volkov also has a clear wrestling advantage in his back pocket, should he need it. On his own two-fight winning streak, both by knockout, now is the time for Volkov to survive and move forward by any means necessary to retain his place in the heavyweight title chart. At 6ft 7in, he should be able to do just that provided he is careful not to get drawn into a war.
Mahjouri: Tuivasa has honed his skills over the years, but it’s still a “live by the sword, die by the sword” approach. This will always cause him problems. Volkov has significant advantages in height and reach, coupled with punching power and a wealth of experience. Volkov is pretty underrated, but his four UFC losses were all inflicted on fighters who went on to fight for the UFC heavyweight title or were about to contend. Tuivasa’s recent losses align with the same goal, but he has struggled more as a UFC heavyweight. This fight will go a long way in showcasing the true growth of Tuivasa. Volkov is a perfect test for this purpose. For now, I will side with Volkov via knockout or unanimous decision.
Manel Kape vs. Felipe dos Santos
Campbell: Despite fellow countryman Kai Kara-France’s last-minute withdrawal, Kape did well at Thursday’s press conference to remind fans exactly who he is and why he got so excited when he verbally addressed Kara-France. who was sitting in the crowd, and almost got physically into it with Israel Adesanya on the dais. But Kape, riding a three-fight winning streak in his matchup against UFC debutant Felipe dos Santos, has plenty of reason to be so cocky. Former bantamweight champion Rizin has faced top competitors around the world for the past six years and remains an intriguing title prospect to watch due to his power and aggressive style.
Who wins UFC 293: Adesanya vs. Strickland, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now for detailed picks on every fight at UFC 293all from the MMA expert who made over $6,200 in 2022, and find out.