Monday Mailbag: Welcome to the Upside Down, Sean Strickland is UFC middleweight champion

Monday Mailbag: Welcome to the Upside Down, Sean Strickland is UFC middleweight champion

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Is Izzy getting an immediate rematch?

— cheetahcat09 (@cheetahcat09) September 11, 2023

I sincerely doubt it, especially with the division constantly evolving around them. You have Robert Whittaker looming in the background and Marvin Vettori heading back to the Octagon at some point soon. Of course, never say never (assuming the promotion brings in a few more middleweights), but I think the UFC are going to try to move on from this as quickly as possible. That being said, if Strickland defends his title even once, I think he’ll have earned an Edson Barboza-like lifetime of respect from MMA fans.

With seismic news this week in MMA, an unforeseen name change for this column, and Sean Strickland’s monumental upset of Israel Adesanya in the UFC middleweight championship, there are plenty of questions to discuss. First up, how did Strickland pull off this massive upset? The odds going into the fight were stacked against Strickland, but that didn’t stop him from putting on a boxing clinic and emerging with the title. Strickland has been one of MMA’s most enigmatic fighters, but even those people picking Strickland were left with few answers as to how he could pull off the win. All that being considered, the Strickland win has to be considered one of the greatest MMA upsets of all-time.

In the short-term, an immediate rematch between Strickland and Adesanya might be tough to coordinate. Of course, never say never, as plenty of fighters have earned lifetime respect from MMA fans with only one title defense. Robert Whittaker is waiting in the wings and Marvin Vettori is headed back to the Octagon soon. The UFC may be inclined to try and move on from this title fight quickly.

The perspective on this fight could still change over the next few years. Strickland looked incredible and he could have easily turned a corner in his career. Alternatively, Adesanya could be past his prime. The Last Stylebender has 113 professional fights under his belt across boxing, kickboxing, and MMA, which is a lot of wear and tear on the body. If that’s the case, then this upset could become even more impressive in years to come.

The MMA world is still reeling from this shock result. It will take some time to fully absorb the effects of this extraordinary event. But one thing’s for certain, MMA fans will not soon forget the moment Sean Strickland out-raced and out-boxed Israel Adesanya to become the new UFC middleweight champion