Adesanya will put his middleweight championship on the line against Strickland on Sept. 9 next week at UFC 293 in Sydney. Adesanya is beginning his second reign as 185-pound champ after knocking out rival Alex Pereira in a rematch to reclaim the title in April, and he’ll enter the first defense of his second reign as an overwhelming betting favorite, with oddsmakers listing him as high as -650 to win and Strickland a big underdog at +475.
The way Jones sees things, it’s not that Strickland (27-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) is a bad fighter. It’s just that Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) is too good and too precise in the cage.
“I got Izzy winning just because he’s more versatile,” Jones said on the OverDogs Podcast. “He does everything that Sean does, just way more calculated.”
Strickland wasn’t the original UFC 293 opponent for Adesanya, who was dead set on fighting in Australia near his home country of New Zealand. Bitter rival Dricus Du Plessis was supposed to get the title shot, but he couldn’t make a two-month turnaround due to injury after finishing former champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 290.
Strickland is getting the title shot on the strength of back-to-back wins over Abusupiyan Magomedov and light heavyweight Nassourdine Imavov. Prior to those wins, he lost his two most high-profile bouts – a split decision to Jared Cannonier and a brutal knockout against Pereira.
“Izzy could beat Strickland in a boxing match if he had to,” Jones said. “I think he’s more calculated, and I think his power is a few steps up about Strickland as well.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.