Adesanya (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) was the victim of a massive upset on Saturday when he lost the middleweight title to Strickland (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) by unanimous decision in the UFC 293, which took place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.
It was a lopsided result in Strickland’s favor, and put Adesanya in unprecedented career territory with two losses in his past three. After going on a dominant run atop the division during his first title reign, Adesanya dropped the belt to Alex Pereira in November. He won it back in an immediate rematch in April, only to lose it again against Strickland one fight later.
Adesanya has been one of the most active top-level fighters in UFC history during recent years, and it appears the UFC already plans to reward him with another rematch. UFC president Dana White said post-fight at UFC 293 that he wants to run it back, but UFC Hall of Famer and color commentator Daniel Cormier thinks that’s the wrong play.
“The last time Izzy lost, all we could speak about was he should be next again,” Cormier said post-fight on the UFC 293 pay-per-view broadcast. “I don’t think that this time. I don’t think he should fight for a belt next. I don’t think he should get an automatic rematch. I think the division needs to move on a little bit.”
Although Adesanya has the most name value in the division due to his achievements, he’s hardly the only worthy contender. Dricus Du Plessis has a case after his upset of Robert Whittaker in July, Jared Cannonier was the backup fighter at UFC 293, and the winner of next month’s UFC 294 matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa will enter the fray, as well.
Cormier said he wants to see some of those names get an opportunity to fight Strickland before Adesanya.
“It’s like a brand new world, right? Like The Little Mermaid – a whole new world,” Cormier said. “Sean Strickland now opens up the possibility of so many fresh matchups. Cannonier just weighed in also and has a victory over Sean Strickland.
“But I’ve got to imagine Dricus Du Plessis will be the next guy, especially after being the one that was supposed to be here tonight. I’ll tell you, he’s kicking himself in South Africa right now, because if there was a time to get Adesanya, tonight was the night. There was a lot that goes into this fight, and Sean Strickland did what he was supposed to do. But I figure Du Plessis, unless Khamzat Chimaev just completely wipes out Paulo Costa.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.