Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) defends his middleweight title against Strickland (27-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 293 main event at Qudos Bank Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews/ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+.
Sanko will make her pay-per-view commentary debut for Saturday’s event. According to BetMGM, Strickland is a big +500 underdog, meaning a $100 bet on the challenger would win $500 profit. Adesanya is a -700 favorite, meaning a $700 bet would be needed on the champion to return $100 profit. But Sanko doesn’t see the fight that lopsided.
“I think Sean knows what he needs to do to win, and I do think that this could be a more competitive fight than a lot of people are giving it credit for,” Sanko told MMA Junkie. “Sean has a particular style that – we often talk about the guys that have really flashy techniques as being hard to emulate in the gym. I would argue that Sean Strickland would be very hard to emulate in the gym. Not a lot of people can keep up that particular style of pace.
“Izzy is a jazz musician. He’s out there bending notes and being extemporaneous with how he expresses himself. Sean Strickland is like thrash metal. He’s in your face, and he’s unrelenting. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it can be very effective.”
Strickland already had his shot at an elite kickboxer but was quickly knocked out by former champ Alex Pereira at UFC 276. Strickland has since trained with Pereira, and Sanko said if Strickland can apply pressure cautiously, he could find success against Adesanya.
“So, if Sean can effectively get in there and safely find a way to make this more of a messy fight,” Sanko continued, “get in Izzy’s face like he does everybody, but do it safely unlike he did in the Pereira fight. Maybe drag the fight out a little bit longer.
“Which I think this will be a longer fight actually, unless he gets slept early somehow by Izzy. Mix in the grappling. There are not easy paths to victory for Sean, but there are paths. Sean’s not going to win a kickboxing fight against Israel Adesanya, but Sean could win a fight.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.