All the pieces are finally in place for Israel Adesanya to headline UFC 293 this coming September in Sydney, Australia. The now-2x middleweight champion had looked like he was set to take on streaking top contender Dricus Du Plessis for his next title defense, but injury woes have pushed the South African off of Adesanya’s (and more importantly the UFC’s) preferred timeline.
Du Plessis got a career highlight victory over former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 back in July, after which, the UFC brought the ‘Last Stylebender’ into the cage for a heated verbal confrontation. All systems seemed go for the two men to meet in the fall.
Unfortunately, fears heading into the fight were later confirmed, that a two month turnaround was simply not enough time for Du Plessis to both earn the top contender’s spot and get ready to face Adesanya. Du Plessis needed more time, so the UFC had to find someone else. The next man in line? Sean Strickland
Sean Strickland vs. Israel Adesanya confirmed
By all accounts, Sean Strickland had the look of a very unlikely title contender. The Xtreme Couture talent has had his share of success up at 185, but back to back losses to top contenders (and future champion) Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier seemed like they’d left the 32-year-old firmly in bridesmaid position for the foreseeable future.
But, that’s the value of a dominant champion. As the list of fresh contenders dwindle, the UFC has to reach further to find new faces. With Adesanya already holding victories over Whittaker, Cannonier, Vettori, Costa, and even Derek Brunson and Kelvin Gastelum, Strickland was one of the few men at middleweight with a number next to his name that the Nigerian-born New Zealander had yet to face.
“What’s up, everybody!? UFC president Dana White here,” the UFC’s head honcho said in a video recorded for the promotion’s social media accounts. “UFC 293 is in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, September 9th. The main event: Israel Adesanya defends his title against 5th ranked Sean Strickland.
“This will be Adesanya’s 11th consecutive UFC title fight. What I love about Israel? He’s always ready to take on the best in the world; anyone, anytime. And Strickland is an absolute maniac who doesn’t back down from anyone. This will be a great fight.”
“We haven’t been back to Sydney in 6 years,” White continued. “It’s one of the greatest cities in the world. UFC 293: Adesanya vs. Strickland, Saturday, September 9th. Tickets on sale now, so make your plans today and I will see you at the fights.”
While the booking never seemed terribly in doubt after it became clear that Du Plessis couldn’t make it to the September PPV, negotiations seemed to drag out for a couple of weeks with Sean Strickland pressing the UFC for a pay bump to step in to the title contender’s spot.
“Guys, we’re working it,” Strickland said, when pressed on the fight in a recent interview. “My [manager] continues over there—he’s out here—we’re working it. We are working it. We’re trying, I’m trying to do it for you guys, we’re trying to make it happen for you guys. And then, once the fight happens, all I gotta do is fight Izzy—which, you know, that’s the easy part, right? Getting the fight is the hard part. Winning the fight’s the easy part.”
Tai Tuivasa vs. Alexander Volkov to co-main
Unfortunately, if Australian fans were hoping that the UFC might be bringing multiple title fights or other prestigious international talent to the event for their first Sydney show in more than half a decade, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Serving as the PPV’s co-main event will be an already officially announced heavyweight tilt between Aussie fan-favorite Tai Tuivasa, taking on longtime top-ranked contender Alexander Volkov.
“The co-main event is Tai Tuivasa vs. Alexander Volkov,” White announced. “Top ten heavyweights! Both of these guys have insane power. There will be no judges needed for this fight.”
Tuivasa is currently riding back-to-back losses; the first time in his career that he’s been finished in consecutive fights. Meanwhile, Volkov has bounced back exceptionally from a 2022 submission loss to current top contender Tom Aspinall. Following that defeat, Volkov picked up stoppage wins over Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Romanov.
“Also on the card: Kai Kara-France faces Manel Kape in a matchup of top flyweight contenders,” White concluded. “Plus, we’ve re-booked Justin Tafa vs. Austen Lane. These two heavyweights faced each other on June 24th and it was a great fight, for about 30 seconds, before Lane accidentally eye-poked Tafa, resulting in a ‘no contest.’ These two wanted a rematch to finish what they started, and we’re giving it to them.”
Current UFC 293 fight card
Here’s how the UFC 293 fight card looks right now:
- Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland
- Tai Tuivasa vs. Alexander Volkov
- Kai Kara-France vs. Manel Kape
- Carlos Ulberg vs. Da Un Jung
- Jack Jenkins vs. Chepe Mariscal
- Justin Tafa vs. Austen Lane
- Mike Diamond vs. Charlie Radtke
- Shane Young vs. Gabriel Miranda
- Tyson Pedro vs. Anton Turkalj
- Jamie Mullarkey vs. John Makdessi
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