The UFC's middleweight strap is on the line Saturday night. We dive into the main event of UFC 293 with our best Israel Adesanya-Sean Strickland picks and predictions based on the odds from our best sports betting apps.
Israel Adesanya plans to defend the middleweight title against Sean Strickland in Australia on Saturday night when UFC 293's megafight takes place. In April, he won the title at UFC 287 with a win over his opponent Alex Pereira.
Adesanya and Strickland headline the UFC's final numbered card until UFC 294 on Oct. 21. "The Last Stylebender" had won three straight fights before the loss to Pereira at UFC 281 on Nov. 12, 2022, but he won the rematch five months later.
Strickland has won back-to-back fights on UFC Fight Night cards. His last appearance on a numbered card was against Pereira at UFC 276, when Adesanya defeated Jared Cannonier to retain the belt during his first title run.
Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland fight odds
Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland method of victory odds
Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland picks
Fight prediction: Adesanya to win -650 via DraftKings
So long as the brash Strickland’s pre-fight barbs don’t have their desired effect, I expect Adesanya to submit another methodical, calculated showing and outclass Saturday’s challenger. The lines on a successful title defense for the reigning champ aren’t particularly compelling, but they’re lopsided for a reason, and there’s little in Strickland’s tape to keep one from siding with this matchup’s favorite.
In a grudge match that should remain upright throughout, I’m opting for the career kickboxer over the more conventional boxer. Much improved as Strickland’s hands might be, his offensive footwork remains a work in progress, and I doubt he’ll manage to cut off the cage against Adesanya, who’s adept at working in space, angling out of exchanges, and using every inch of the canvas to his advantage. Granted, Strickland lands a gaudy 5.86 significant strikes per minute to Adesanya’s 3.94, but the latter won’t indulge him with a stand-and-trade scrap so easily, and Adesanya should earn ample respect from Strickland early enough with a variety of striking looks, feints, and his patented stance switches.
Ever the technician, Adesanya should spend the opening stanza gaining reads on Strickland’s habits, after which he’ll open up on the challenger with a combination of jabs, pull-back right hands, and low kicks. The defending champ’s varied attack could prompt Strickland to shoot for takedowns, but as Adesanya finds his timing, the more desperate those takedown attempts will be. In short, expect nothing less than a vintage, boisterous showing from the reigning titleholder that should result in a successful title defense.
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Fight best bets: Adesanya by KO/TKO
Betting on a lopsided verdict for Adesanya is admittedly tempting, given that he’s gone the distance in nine of 15 UFC showings - seven of which have gone five rounds - and Strickland has only folded to strikes twice in a 32-fight, 15-year career. That said, Adesanya’s style is tailor-made for strikers like Strickland, i.e. boxers who work behind the jab and are often vulnerable to low kicks.
I see the champion overwhelming the challenger with volume and variety after the main event’s first frame before securing a KO/TKO with a nasty salvo, and oddsmakers seem to agree. FanDuel is offering a 17th career win via strikes for Adesanya at +115 and a victory on points at +140. DraftKings offers double chance lines for those looking to cover their bases, but given the lopsided fight line of this clash, there isn’t much value in a double chance bet, with an Adesanya win by KO/TKO or decision available at an unattractive -550.
If you’re after a prop bet with a decent payout, this matchup’s round props might be worth your attention. DraftKings has the Under (4.5 rounds) at -135, but things get more interesting at Under 3.5 rounds, as DraftKings offers this prop at a respectable +110, and Adesanya has earned all five of his UFC KO/TKO victories inside of three stanzas. All told, a sixth promotional win via strikes for the defending titleholder offers the best value in a matchup with otherwise lopsided odds.
Pick: Adesanya by KO/TKO (+115 via FanDuel)
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Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland betting preview
A methodical kickboxer who can operate from both stances and stuff a takedown, Adesanya has routinely outdueled elite opposition throughout his UFC stint. The Nigerian native defended the middleweight crown five times against solid opposition during his first reign as champion, and after losing it to longtime rival Alex Pereira by fifth-round TKO last November, rebounded emphatically with a second-round KO in an immediate rematch this past April. The two-time champion now enters Saturday’s title defense with a UFC record of 13-2 and a handful of promotional victories by knockout or TKO.
The defending champion’s standup stylings have befuddled foes like Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, Robert Whittaker, Jared Cannonier, and Paulo Costa. Anyone familiar with Adesanya’s background shouldn’t be surprised at these results, as he’d competed in 80 professional kickboxing bouts by the time he’d debuted with the world’s top promotion in 2018. With his varied striking arsenal, tireless feinting, stance switching, and footwork, Adesanya sets a high bar for his division in the standup department, and he gets a challenger who should give him the kind of duel he wants in Strickland.
Speaking of Strickland, the foul-mouthed California native planted the seeds for Saturday’s date with Adesanya well before it was booked. Indeed, the pair of middleweight strikers exchanged barbs ahead of Strickland’s loss to Pereira at UFC 276 in July of last year, and while he suffered a brutal KO at Pereira’s hands and a decision loss to Cannonier soon thereafter, the challenger rebounded with back-to-back wins to earn his first crack at UFC gold.
After outstriking a game Nassourdine Imavov over five rounds in January, Strickland earned a second straight victory while brutally handing lauded prospect Abusupiyan Magomedov his comeuppance in July. The impressive second-round TKO of Magomedov brought Strickland’s UFC record to a solid 14-5 and secured his shot at Adesanya’s throne.
While Adesanya comes from a kickboxing background, Strickland boasts the striking style of a more traditional boxer and has switched gears in the standup department since moving up from 170 pounds in late 2020. A younger Strickland flashed solid grappling and a crisp, active jab, but was often criticized for his reluctance to throw leather in combinations. That changed once he ditched the weight cuts to 170 pounds, with Strickland’s current incarnation boasting busy hands, excellent conditioning, and an aversion to forcing a finish in both three- and five-round contests.
With nearly 60 combined MMA bouts between them, these middleweights have oodles of tape on each other to study in preparation for Saturday’s clash, and unless Strickland reverts back to his former welterweight self, this matchup should be contested entirely on the feet, with both men peppering in some trash talk throughout. The pair headline a 12-fight bill at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
Israel Adesanya vs Sean Strickland tale of the tape
|Israel Adesanya||Sean Strickland|
|Weight||185 lbs.||185 lbs.|