Israel Adesanya’s coach reveals strange request after shock loss to Sean Strickland

Israel Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman has revealed that he asked the UFC’s head matchmaker for a rematch in one week’s time, after Sean Strickland stunned Adesanya to win the middleweight title on Saturday.

Strickland, a huge underdog in Sydney, beat Adesanya on all three scorecards in the main event of UFC 293, making the Nigerian-New Zealander’s second title reign a short one.

Adesanya, 34, only spoke to the media briefly after the fight, saying: “I had a different plan for this, but life throws curveballs at you. Win or lose, I wasn’t going to say much anyway, but right now, I lost to the better man on the night, and I just want to be with people who care about me, my team, so I’m going to go do that.

“But I’ll leave you in the capable hands of a man who is much smarter than me... I’ll leave it with Eugene Bareman, who will handle this for the first time.”

Bareman then explained that he and his coaching team had struggled to connect with Adesanya during the fight with American Strickland.

Bareman also revealed that he had approached Mick Maynard, the UFC’s chief matchmaker, later in the night, asking if they could set up a rematch in a week’s time.

“I think Sean’s a great fighter, and I never once thought that Sean wasn’t capable of beating Israel,” said Bareman, “[but] it was an alternate kind of universe where Israel performed poorly, where Sean could win, and I’m sitting in that universe right now.”

Adesanya first won the UFC middleweight title in 2019, before losing it to old kickboxing rival Alex Pereira via TKO last November. Adesanya regained the belt with a knockout of Pereira in April, before dropping it again on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Strickland suffered his own stoppage loss to Pereira last July, before losing to Jared Cannonier on points in December. He bounced back, however, by winning back-to-back fights against Nassourdine Imavov and Abus Magomedov this year. He then trained with Pereira ahead of Saturday’s main event.

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