After weeks of speculation, Israel Adesanya finally has an opponent locked in for his eagerly anticipated return to the Octagon on September 9.
Emanating from the Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park Australia, ‘The Last Stylebender’ will put his middleweight world title on the line in a main event showcase against the often outspoken and ever-controversial top-ten contender, Sean Strickland.
During an appearance on Submission Radio, City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman sat down with Kacper Rosolowski and Denis Skuratov to share his relief over finally knowing who his figher will be stepping into the cage with as UFC 293 quickly closes in.
“It’s a big relief for us. Of course, we commit to the date and the opponent’s not that important early on, but as you get this close, you kind of have to know who the opponent is because you building everything around who the opponent is,” Bareman said.”Good to finally get that locked in. We had our suspicions anyways. We did do some preparation early for [Strickland’s] particular style, but it’s just a relief to get it locked in.”
— Combat Sports UK (@CombatSportsUK) August 9, 2023
Originally, Adesanya was expected to square off with the division’s top contender, Dricus Du Plessis, but after sustaining some minor injuries in his scrap with Robert Whittaker at UFC 289, ‘Stillknocks was unable to make the quick turnaround, opening up the opportunity for Strickland to slide in and claim his first title shot.
“It is what it is,” Bareman said. “He didn’t want to push through his injuries. Again, it doesn’t matter to me. That’s something do to with him and his team and he has to go back and fight someone else.”
Instead of Du Plessis, Sean Strickland will step into the main event spotlight two months removed from his second-round knockout of Abus Magomedov on July 1. Asked for his thoughts on Strickland’s quick turnaround and whether or not that could be seen as an advantage, Bareman said:
“He’s one of the best fighters in the world. He deserves to be there. I mean, he’s coming off a fight camp. He’s coming off another fight. A quick turnaround coming off another fight can be an advantage if you use it in the right way. His team knows that, and he must have known. He’s got a smart team. He’s got a smart coach and he must have known that this might be on the cards.
“So if he was smart, he would have gone into training straight away. Even if there was only a five to ten percent chance of them having a title shot, I mean, on a two percent chance in this gym, people have trained and have done a full camp. You just get yourself ready. If there’s an inkling or even a small chance, get yourself ready and you might get the call-up. If it’s smart, it’s not short notice.”
Fans Expect a Memorable War of Words Between Sean Strickland and Israel Adesanya
While Sean Strickland is undoubtedly best known for his crazy commentary on practically everything under the sun, ‘Tarzan’ just so happens to be a hell of a fighter. Amassing a record of 14-5 inside the Octagon, Strickland really came into his own once he moved to the middleweight division.
Of course, the oddsmakers are showing little respect to Strickland, listing him as a +350 underdog. But none of that means a thing to Eugene Bareman who knows just how talented ‘Tarzan’ is no matter what the fans and sportsbooks predict.
“I give him the maximum respect you have to give someone who’s one of the top ten fighters in the world in their weight division,” Bareman continued. “He has a very unique fighting style and some unique gifts and that’s what you have to have when you start separating yourself from the pack. When you’re in the top ten. He has some unique gifts and unique talents that we have to take care of and I give him full respect.”
Adding onto those comments, Bareman referenced the competitive mindset of perhaps the greatest professional boxer in the history of the sport, Floyd ‘Money Mayweather.
“The real champions who are the best in the world, they’re the best in the world because every time they step up to the plate and fight for that championship, they prepare themself accordingly no matter who the opponent is. And that’s what we do. I get a lot of inspiration from Floyd Mayweather and the way that he lived his life. His lifestyle and the way that he approached every single fight,” Bareman said.
“You’re talking about a guy that was levels and levels above some of his competition. Mentally, he never treated any of his opponents like he was much more gifted than they were. He treated them like they were his equal and they had a chance to beat him and he prepared each and every time accordingly.”
If you ask any MMA fan, perhaps the most exciting thing about seeing Sean Strickland and Israel Adesanya paired up together is the fireworks that are certain to fly during their UFC 293 press conference appearances. Strickland has already lobbed a heap of criticism and insults at ‘The Last Stylebender.’
But it’s nothing Adesanya hasn’t already heard from his own head coach a million times before.
“Israel’s solid. Like, mentally solid. Nothing can ever shake that person. No one can get in his head. He’s solid, and then he has the team, the other coaches, and myself to make sure that he doesn’t stray from his usual mindset,” Bareman added.
“In terms of Sean, I don’t know too much about what he says. I’ve seen a few things. I’ll be honest, the few things I’ve heard about Sean, they make me laugh. They’re the same things I give Israel sh*t about already. The painted nails and all the rest of it. He gets it. It’s funny that Sean brings all this up. I already bring it up.
“What the bloke says, it’s… Sometimes he says some gross stuff, but some of it is quite funny the whole Chinese thing is quite funny, I think.”
Sean Strickland wants the “Chinese slut” Israel Adesanya 👀
(video: theschmo) pic.twitter.com/uZxAV0sWTX
— Combat Sports Today 📰 (@CSTodayNews) August 1, 2023