Israel Adesanya says he’s confident in his ability to grapple with Sean Strickland, but Eugene Bareman still doesn’t want to see things hit the ground at UFC 293.
The two fighters are set to meet in the main event of UFC 293 this Saturday with Adesanya’s middleweight title on the line. Strickland may not have been the UFC’s first choice to challenge for the title, but after Dricus Du Plessis indicated he wouldn’t be ready to fight in Australia, the longtime veteran was given his first shot at UFC gold.
There’s been quite a bit of speculation around what game plan Strickland might use against Adesanya, and Bareman told Submission Radio ahead of the event that they intend to keep things standing.
“If Sean is able to grapple with Israel then we have failed in our task,” Bareman said. “At this level of the sport you always go in there with Plan A, with your A game. You never go into a sport and say ‘We’re gonna run our Plan B, we’re gonna run Plan B.’”
Bareman Sees Adesanya’s ‘Physical Advantages’ As Too Much For Strickland
Adesanya has only been out grappled when he moved up to light heavyweight to challenge Jan Błachowicz at UFC 259. Bareman expects Strickland to get caught if he does try to close the distance on the champion.
(Rich Storry/Zuffa LLC)
“I don’t expect there to be too many grappling exchanges. Israel should be able to use his physical advantages to the best of his ability and should be able to pop Sean off from a distance. And Sean’s gonna take a lot of risks coming inside, and our job is to put some proper heat and make him pay for those risks.”
Fight week for UFC 293 has largely been a tame affair considering how colorful Strickland normally tends to be in interviews, although Adesanya did have a heated confrontation with flyweight contender Manel Kape at the event’s press conference.
The only middleweight that’s managed to beat Adesanya so far was his former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, who earned his shot at the title by knocking out Strickland at UFC 276.
“The Last Stylebender” reclaimed the middleweight belt when he finished Pereira in his last fight, and now he’ll try kick off his second reign as champion with what would be his sixth title defense overall when he meets Strickland in Australia.
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