By Victor Kanayo
Nigerian-born fighter Israel Adesanya on Sunday surprisingly lost his UFC middleweight title after yielding to a defeat to unknown American counterpart Sean Strickland.
The fight which happened at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena saw Strickland winning by unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards after an enthralling five-round battle.
Adesanya’s Slip Down
A blistering straight right hand dropped Adesanya hard late in the first round.
Strickland was on top of him immediately and firing away, but referee Marc Goddard gave Adesanya a lot of leeway and he survived the round.
But Strickland continually marched forward, kept his guard up and never allowed Adesanya to get untracked.
The fight started as expected with a lot of feints and fakes from Adesanya while a disciplined Strickland measured him out, refusing to fall into the champion’s trap.
Strickland turned it on big time to rock Adesanya in the latter stages of the opening round with a straight right hand to the champion as he tried to hook around.
The American was quick to take advantage too, unleashing a series of shots that had the champion in trouble but Adesanya was able to stay on his feet until the final bell brought an end to the first round.
Adesanya, to his credit, looked calm and composed in his corner like nothing had happened but it was certainly a surprise to see the way Strickland turned the fight on its head early.
Strickland though remained patient, picking his moments as he did with 90 seconds left in the round as the American landed a left hand and then a left hook soon after.
Strickland did just that in the fourth too as he landed another left hand and then followed it up with a flurry of shots that Adesanya ate, repeating that later in the round to really put the pressure on the champion.
Adesanya though was unable to land anything of real note to turn the fight in his favour, with Strickland continuing to pile on the shots and pull off a stunning boilover — just as he predicted before Sunday’s fight.
When the bout ended, Strickland shouted at Adesanya and then raised his arms and sprinted around the cage in celebration.