To be clear, Sean Strickland has fought in the UFC since 2014, and his résumé is undeniably strong during that time. But the primary reason he is challenging Israel Adesanya for the middleweight championship at UFC 293 this weekend in Sydney is that Adesanya wants him there.
Adesanya (24-2) will seek his seventh championship win on Saturday, against an outspoken challenger in Strickland (27-5). The UFC wanted Adesanya to defend his title against Dricus du Plessis, but Du Plessis wasn’t available on the date and Adesanya pushed, forcibly, for Strickland to take his place.
The defending champion eventually got his wish, and Strickland, who holds wins over ranked opponents but is only 2-2 in his past four appearances, will try to take advantage of the biggest opportunity of his career in Australia. Should he pull it off, there will be a major shockwave sent through the entire 185-pound division.
In addition to the main event, Aussie heavyweights Tai Tuivasa and Justin Tafa will try to provide wins for the home crowd.
Follow along as Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi recap all the action, or watch the fights live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.