Dana White thinks Israel Adesanya just didn’t look like himself at UFC 293, but he can’t quite put his finger on what it was.
In the middleweight main event, Israel Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) lost his middleweight title to Sean Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) in an all-time title upset. Israel looked like he was in slow motion,” Dana White told reporters after the event.
“He looked like he couldn’t get off. He looked like he was really stiff tonight. He looked very slow. … Only Israel knows what’s going on. I’m very curious to see what he says at this press conference tonight.“
“There are a million things that could go wrong. Some days you wake up and you’re just not there, man. It’s just not there. He looked bone-dry tonight, standing up really tall. He looked very slow. He looked like he couldn’t get off at all. Even in the fifth round when everybody knew he needed a knockout to win the fight, there was no sense of urgency to try to finish the fight. So I don’t know if he’s hurt or if tonight’s the night.”
Israel Adesanya passed on the usual question-and-answer session during his post-fight news conference and had coach Eugene Bareman stand in his place, so those conclusions will have to be reached at a later date. However, Dana White knows one thing: Sean Strickland deserves a lot of credit for the performance he turned in.
“He came into hostile territory with the whole world talking shit about him, the whole world saying he couldn’t do it,” Dana White said. “A seven-to-one underdog, he came in and almost finished him in the first round and won the championship, won the world title. Everything that we’re talking about right now about how crazy this sport is, when opportunities arise, you jump on them and you take them. You should never turn down fights when you get the call, especially if it’s for a world title.”
Given Israel Adesanya’s standing in the division and the sport’s history, Dana White (who often declines matchmaking questions on the night of the fight) indicated an immediate rematch with Strickland will likely be next.
“I think you do the rematch, absolutely,” Dana White said. “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. You come in and I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to these questions, but Israel does, and I’m looking forward to hearing it.”