UFC 293 results, highlights: Sean Strickland upsets Israel Adesanya with masterful performance, wins title

Few moments have shocked the MMA world like Saturday's UFC 293 main event. Despite entering the cage as a massive underdog against one of the greatest champions in UFC history, Sean Strickland outworked Israel Adesanya to become UFC middleweight champion with a unanimous decision win.

The fight played out in a strange way, with Adesanya, an accomplished kickboxer, being completely thrown off and ineffective because of Strickland's constant pressure on the feet. Despite the fight never hitting the ground, Strickland was able to easily coast to victory by simply outworking Adesanya and keeping the champion's back to the cage.

Adesanya entered the fight as a -650 favorite, but Strickland never seemed uncomfortable from the opening bell, forcing the action and using simple strikes to outwork an ineffective Adesanya. Strickland even came close to stopping the fight with a big flurry in Round 1 that badly hurt Adesanya.

Adesanya appeared to have gathered himself at the start of Round 2 and had his most effective five minutes of the fight, though much of that success seemed to come because Strickland's own offensive output decreased.

There was never a moment across the fight where it felt as though Adesanya was in control. Despite being an accomplished kickboxer, Adesanya appeared lost because of Strickland's simple pressure-based approach to the fight. Rather than utilize his stronger and more technical striking tools, Adesanya circled around the outside of the cage, rarely planting his feet to let loose with any meaningful offense.

Adesanya's lack of offense paired with Strickland's constant forward movement meant that after the conclusion of five rounds, all three official scorecards read 49-46 in Strickland's favor, crowning a new -- and unexpected -- UFC middleweight champion.

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"You guys know, Izzy is a bad motherf---er, guys," Strickland said after his historic win. "He's beaten the majority of my friends pretty easily. I was doubting myself at times but the fans in Australia, you motivated me. ... In the fourth round, when I heard you yelling, it motivated me, guys."

The fight was the first defense for Adesanya in his second stint as middleweight champion. After suffering a knockout loss to Alex Pereira in late 2022, he came back to score his own knockout earlier this year and regain the championship.

The plan was for Adesanya to defend the belt against Dricus Du Plessis, playing on an ugly rivalry between the two over whether Nigerian-born Adesanya or South African-born Du Plessis was "more African." When Du Plessis was unable to accept a fight at UFC 293, Strickland got the call, with nearly everyone in the MMA game writing him off as having no chance of beating a technical assassin like Adesanya.

Instead, Strickland shocked the world and did serious damage to Adesanya's place as an all-time great in the sport's history.

"I had a different plan for this but again life throws curveballs at you," Adesanya said at the post-fight press conference. "Win or lose, I wasn't going to say much anyway but right now, I lost tonight to the better man on the night. I just want to go and be with people who care about me -- my team and they're waiting for me so I'm going to do that.

"But I will leave you in the capable hands of a man who is much smarter than me, I'll admit this on worldwide national media, I'll leave you with Eugene Bareman. He'll handle this for the first time. I want to go chill, have some breakfast, build my family and till next time."

Elsewhere on the card, Alexander Volkov scored a second-round submission of hometown favorite Tai Tuivasa with an ezekiel choke. The former Bellator heavyweight champ picked apart the Aussie fighter on the feet before dropping him and securing full mount, where he then smothered Tuivasa for the unique submission. Plus, both Justin Tafa and Tyson Pedro were able to send the hometown fans happy with first-round knockouts in brutal fashion. 

CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 293 below.

UFC 293 card and results

  • Sean Strickland (c) def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
  • Alexander Volkov def. Tai Tuivasa via second-round submission (Ezekiel choke)
  • Manel Kape def. Felipe Dos Santos via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Justin Tafa def. Austen Lane via first-round TKO (punches)
  • Tyson Pedro def. Anton Turkalj via first-round TKO (punches)
  • Carlos Ulberg def. Da Woon Jung via third-round submission (rear-naked choke)
  • Chepe Mariscal def. Jack Jenkins via second-round submission (verbal tap)
  • John Makdessi def. Jamie Mullarkey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Nasrat Haqparast def. Landon Quinones via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Charlie Radtke def. Mike Diamond via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
  • Gabriel Miranda def. Shane Young via first-round submission (neck crank)
  • Kevin Jousset def. Kiefer Crosbie via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
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Official result: Sean Strickland def. Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46). Strickland pulls off the massive upset to become UFC middleweight champion

 
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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland -- Round 5:  Adesanya landed a leg kick early but again was forced back by Strickland's pressure. Strickland just kept pushing forward, forcing Adesanya to move but not do anything at all offensively. Adesanya landed a right hand but ate a jab in return. Adesanya fired a jab but ate a harder one in return. A right hand landed for Strickland and another followed after. Adesanya threw a few punches that missed as Strickland just plain outworked the champion. Strickland began to taunt as he charged forward. An Adesanya win here would be a robbery. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Strickland (49-46) 

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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland -- Round 4: The fighters went right back to the same thing, with Adesanya moving along the cage and Strickland chasing. That strategy would work better for the champ if he was landing any counters of note. Strickland landed a good right hand with Adesanya moving away with his hands down. Strickland again landed as he pushed Adesanya back. Strickland's jab connected a few times before Adesanya landed his own. Strickland blocked a punch from Adesanya and landed a good flurry. Adesanya landed his own right hand but immediately moved away instead of following up. Adesanya went to the body with a kick and kept moving away. Strickland kept pushing the pace and Adesanya looked increasingly lost being forced to fight off the back foot. Adesanya may well need a finish in the final round as he's being outfought, pure and simple. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Strickland (39-37)

 
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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland -- Round 3: Adesanya continued to slide around the outside of the cage, looking to poke at Strickland with kicks and jabs. Strickland continued doing a good job of keeping Adesanya from landing many meaningful shots. Adesanya threw a few head kicks but missed as Strickland moved his head out of the way. To Adesanya's credit, Strickland was also not landing anything of note in the round until a good left hand. Strickland did land a few punches in the final 90 seconds, including a good left hand counter. That may have been enough for Strickland to take it. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Strickland (29-28)

 
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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland -- Round 2: Adesanya looked to have recovered from Strickland's big, nearly fight-finishing flurry. Adesanya landed a few leg kicks, looking to keep moving around the outside of the cage but seemed hesitant to fully pull the trigger. Strickland fired a few jabs and continued to chase Adesanya around the outside of the cage. Adesanya threw a good body shot and a leg kick. Late in the round, Adesanya landed a good right hand over Strickland's guard. A much slower paced round favored Adesanya. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya (19-19)

 
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Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland -- Round 1: Strickland tried to push forward while Adesanya looked to keep space to let his kicks go. Strickland did throw a few leg kicks, trying to use upper body movement to avoid return fire. Adesanya kept a slow pace early, seemingly trying to figure out his timing. Strickland tried to catch a kick for a takedown but Adesanya was able to remain standing. Strickland landedd a good right hand and pinned Adesanya briefly along the cage. Adesanya kept sliding around the outside of the cage and working kicks that did not connect before Strickland landed a big punch and hurt Adesanya. Strickland continued firing away along the cage, landing several shots before the end of the round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Strickland

 
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It's now time for the main event. Israel Adesanya defends the UFC middleweight title against Sean Strickland in a five-round fight. A Strickland win would be shocking here but he's always willing to throw everything at a fight, even if the result doesn't go his way.

 
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Alexander Volkov vs. Tai Tuivasa -- Round 2: Tuivasa tried to force the pace early but Volkov was able to easily avoid danger. Tuivasa did land a few good leg kicks, however. Volkov caught Tuivasa in a Thai clinch and delivered a hard knee to the face. Volkov then landed a four-punch combination before scoring a knockdown on an off-balance Tuivasa. Tuivasa managed to get back to his feet but Volkov kept landing sharp punches. Volkov landed a one-two and caught another kick for a takedown, moving to mount quickly. Volkov tried to lock in an arm triangle but Tuivasa slipped out and Volkov went back to mount to land big punches. Tuivasa gave up the back but then turned back. Volkov, back in mount, locked in an Ezekiel coke and squeezed for the finish. Official result: Alexander Volkanovski def. Tai Tuivasa via submission (Ezekiel choke), Round 2

 
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Alexander Volkov vs. Tai Tuivasa -- Round 1: Tuivasa threw a few leg kicks before Volkov aswered with his own. Volkov looked to stay outside and use his length. He landed a body kick, tring to keep Tuivasa from getting inside and letting his hands go. Volkov caught a kick and nearly put Tuivasa on the ground but Tuivasa managed to spring to his feet. Volkov caught Tuivasa coming in with a good right hand. Volkov landed a good combination that included a leg kick and right hand but Tuivasa fired back. Volkov landed a big late combination, trapping Tuivasa along the cage and landing from all angles. Volkov flurried hard again late in the round and the horn may have saved Tuivasa, who was cut from Volkov's big offense.

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