Dana White reveals plan for Israel Adesanya

Is Israel Adesanya really going to get an instant rematch with Sean Strickland? Dana White has thoughts.

By: Zane Simon | 2 weeks ago

UFC 293 was a shock to the established order of the middleweight division. We all knew that Alex Pereira could be kryptonite to Israel Adesanya’s championship kickboxing style. But Sean Strickland? This was the kind of booking that had many fans and pundits (and maybe even Adesanya himself) looking ahead to whoever might be next down the line.

Walking away from the event, the question is no longer ‘who’s the next title challenger for Israel Adesanya?’ Instead it’s What’s next for the former champion. If Dana White is to be believed, however, the promotion has a plan.

Dana White wants rematch for Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland trade shots at UFC 293. Dana White
Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland trade shots at UFC 293. DAN HIMBRECHTS IMAGO/AAP

All credit where credit is due for Israel Adesanya. For the bulk of his UFC career, the ‘Last Stylebender’ has been a dominant force in the middleweight division. Sure, he’s had a couple lackluster fights here and there, but up until this point he had never met a man at 185 lbs that he couldn’t find some way to overcome. That said, it’s still a bit of a surprise to hear White say that he wants to run back Strickland vs. Adesanya right away.

“No, I think you do the rematch, absolutely,” Dana White told reporters when asked if they would consider booking Adesanya in a non-title fight next. “The rematch is interesting. That could be the thing, too. When you think about, you’re going into the Pereira fight—such a big fight—and you’ve been in there with this guy so many times, and then you overlook Strickland.”

Assuming that an instant title fight rematch is what Adesanya wants, then it seems like he’s in position. At the very least, UFC brass seems unlikely to turn the idea down. But, not everyone is quite so thrilled by the idea. Former two-division champion and current broadcast booth member Daniel Cormier gave his thoughts on the idea of Strickland vs. Adesanya 2.

Daniel Cormier doesn’t like instant rematch

For all Sean Strickland’s shocking success at UFC 293, it has to be noted that Israel Adesanya did not look much like himself. While he’s never been shy about taking the back foot, the City Kickboxing star was notably lackluster in his willingness to try and punish his opponent for walking him down. The Nigerian-born New Zealander banked all his offense on low kicks and looping hooks, both of which Strickland dealt with consistently.

When it became clear that Adesanya would have to adjust his approach if he was going to find a way to win, he appeared utterly incapable of doing so. It’s for that reason that UFC talking head Daniel Cormier feels the promotion shouldn’t run to put the former champ back in contention.

“The last time Izzy lost, all we could talk about was he should be next again. I don’t think that this time,” the color commentator said during the UFC 293 broadcast. “I don’t think he should fight for a belt next time. I don’t think he should get an automatic rematch. I think the division needs to move on a little bit… Sean Strickland now opens up the possibility for so many fresh matchups.”

“Adesanya didn’t look as good. I feel like he was tired Cormier added. And that is why I won’t be politicking for him to get a title fight,” Cormier said on his YouTube channel. “I don’t think that Izzy should fight for the belt next. I think Izzy should take some time. He should rest, let the division shake out a little bit and then come back.

Eugene Bareman already planning the comeback

If fans are looking for signs from Adesanya as to what might be next, the best place to look right now may just be his head coach. Eugene Bareman has never been shy about giving his opinion as to what the UFC should be doing and how the business end of the sport tends to work.

When asked about White’s interest in making the rematch happen, Bareman already had some feelings for what his fighter would need to do differently.

“Israel has to inflict more pain and damage on this man,” Bareman said in a recent interview with Submission Radio. “And what that’s going to mean is we have to find a way to do it and minimize how much harm we kind of put in front of them. Because when you try to hurt someone, the cost of that is that you’re putting yourself in harm’s way for a little bit.

“And our job is to find a way that you can stay just inside enough to inflict some proper damage but still mitigate the risk. And so, you’re going to see a fight. You’re going to see a real good fight, an intriguing rematch against a great opponent and a great team.”

Dricus Du Plessis agrees with Cormier

Not one to sit idly by and watch his title hopes slip away, fast rising star Dricus Du Plessis had some thoughts of his own as to what the UFC should do next. The South African had been penciled in for Strickland’s place on UFC 293, but couldn’t make the 2-month turnaround the promotion wanted following his win over Robert Whittaker in July. Strickland stepped up to take his place, and chaos ensued.

However, as far as Du Plessis is concerned, his spot as the no. 1 contender should be beyond dispute.

“Well what an upset!” Du Plessis wrote in a post to his Instagram. “Don’t think for one moment I’m impressed in any way but congratulations on becoming champion and beating the Kiwi/Chinese/Nigerian [Sean Strickland].

“Myself & [Sean Strickland] had the biggest upsets of 2023 & I am undoubtedly the nr 1 contender so let’s settle this like men whenever wherever. After that I’ll give [Israel Adesanya] his well deserved hiding on my home soil South Africa.That being said don’t want to beat the amateur that fought on Saturday night I want to beat the best [Israel Adesanya] so take some time and get your shit together.”

Of course, the other x-factor at play here is an upcoming fight between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev. While Costa wouldn’t have seemed like a likely title fight recipient for Adesanya, even with a win over Chimaev, both men have the chance to be in reach of the belt now that Strickland is champ.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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