The UFC 293 headliner in Sydney, Australia, features a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland. For most observers in the combat sports world, this is a fairly straight forward fight — Adesanya is the higher-level striker and will more or less pick Strickland apart. However, if Strickland — who usually fights with a unique upright stance and employs a jabbing game — could mix in his wrestling and grappling, things could get very interesting.
But how are the top MMA fighters seeing the contest play out? Here's a look at some of the most prominent names and who they're predicting to win between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland at UFC 293.
Which fighters are predicting Israel Adesanya to win?
Many in the MMA world are unsurprisingly picking Adesanya thanks to his superior striking ability. Among them include the likes of Alexander Volkanovski, Jon Jones and Sean O'Malley.
UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski
“I’m gonna go obviously TKO. I think it’s gonna be a TKO mid rounds. Anywhere two-three, I think you could do it in the first but I’m picking round two, round three TKO stoppage and I think he really does put it on him. Sean Strickland’s gonna say some things and I think ‘Izzy’s’ gonna get the payback that he wants and it’s gonna be that type of fight where he really gets to hurt this guy. Sean’s tough, he’s gonna keep trying to come forward and I can just see him getting absolutely battered.”
UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones
“I got Izzy winning just because he’s more versatile. He does everything that Sean does, just way more calculated. Izzy could beat Strickland in a boxing match if he had to. I think he’s more calculated, and I think his power is a few steps up about Strickland as well.”
UFC bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley
“I think he smokes him. I would love to see Izzy piece him up. He's just so f*****g slick on his feet, Sean walks forward with his f*****g chin up.”
UFC welterweight contender Belal Muhammad
“I think Izzy’s just gonna outclass him. Izzy’s striking is gonna be way better than him. It’s gonna be kinda like the Pereira fight. I think what Abus [Magomedov] did to Strickland the first round, I think Izzy can keep that pace up for five rounds and do the same exact thing.”
UFC welterweight contender Ian Garry
“Adesanya will absolutely annihilate Sean Strickland. He (Strickland) doesn’t possess anywhere near the skill set. Doesn’t possess the intelligence or IQ, either. Sean’s going in there to make it a brawl, but Adesanya is far too smart for that. He will fight at his range, and his range only — that’s it.
“I don’t know when he finishes him — and that part is irrelevant, really – but it’s only a matter of time before Adesanya starts to clinically piece him up.”
UFC lightweight Dan Hooker
“He (Strickland) just doesn't have the skill set, like, It's a bad stylistic matchup, it's a guy who overreacts and bites on everything. He's a guy who overreacts to like, everything. Against a guy who is, drawing reactions out, Israel is the guy who's the best at getting any guy to do what he wants them to do, the best puppet master…that's the true secret to his power. It's the puppet master versus the ultimate puppet.”
UFC middleweight contender Nassourdine Imavov
“I don’t think it’s going to be very easy for him. I think it’s going to be a really complicated fight. What I will say is that Strickland is a really annoying guy to fight against.
“And the longer the fight goes, if it goes five rounds, it could actually work to Strickland’s favor. However, I don’t think he’s going to win. I think he’s going to come back down the rankings, and I think I’m going to get my shot at a rematch in the future.”
Which fighters are predicting Sean Strickland to win?
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of fighters are going with Adesanya to come out on top. However, there are a few leaning towards Strickland pulling off the upset and becoming the new middleweight king. That said, they are his teammates so in a way, they are obligated to root for him.
UFC featherweight contender Dan Ige
“Adesanya's so good, man. One of the best, articulate guys in the world and Strickland just brings that awkwardness. I have to root for him. He's my teammate so I'm going to pick him for this one.”
UFC middleweight contender Brad Tavares
“Sean Strickland, baby let's go! It's going to be a tough fight for him but Sean is my teammate, he's my homie. … I'm behind him 100 percent.”