Like virtually everyone else watching UFC 293 on Saturday night, renowned mixed martial arts coach Javier Mendez was stunned by Sean Strickland’s dominant performance against two-time titleholder Israel Adesanya.
‘Tarzan’ delivered the performance of a lifetime in his first shot at a world title, besting ‘The Last Stylebender’ after 25 minutes. From bell to bell, Strickland shut down Adesanya’s offense with a few simple tools despite being a massive 7-to-1 underdog. Speaking about the shocking upset on his podcast, Javier Mendez marveled at Strickland’s ability to beat one of the best strikers in the world with some boxing and a teep kick.
“Well, my takeaway is us armchair quarterbacks, no matter how experienced we are, are exactly that because I no way in heck expected what happened to happen,” Mendez said. “I never expected an individual with just boxing… Good boxing. MMA style and very good because the guy never gets touched, and with a simple teep kick, was able to do what he did. Advancing forward, never letting Adesanya get off.
“He never let Adesanya settle. Never. He was always on him and he was just a little bit away. Just enough to make him miss, but right there in position to make him not settle and also punish him if he stayed there long enough. Adesanya was on his bicycle the whole five rounds. Then in the very first round when he connected with the 1-2, that was like poetry. From that point, Adesanya didn’t feel too comfortable because he was in unknown territory for him to have someone… A stand-up guy who’s not really known to be a kickboxer and I don’t think anybody foresaw this was going to happen.”
Sean Strickland’s flawless defence Vs Adesanya 🛡️
— 🌴ᴛʜᴇᴀʀᴛᴏꜰᴡᴀʀ🌴 (@TheArtOfWar6) September 11, 2023
Following the fight, UFC CEO Dana White suggested that an immediate rematch was in order. While that comment earned a collective groan from the MMA community online, Mendez believes it is the right option as he believes many more fans will tune in for a rematch between Strickland and Adesanya.
“Based on what Dana’s saying, he feels the rematch is warranted and just leave it up to the UFC to get a hot topic and make the most out of it and I think he’s right,” Mendez added. “I think now is the time to get a rematch because people were shocked. I don’t think as many people bought the pay-per-view as they would the second one around so I think it’s a good move on Dana’s part to get a rematch going.”
Javier Mendez Speaks on a Potential Rematch Between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski
With UFC 293 in the books, the promotion will begin its march toward the next big pay-per-view event, UFC 294, on October 21. On that night, the promotion will head back to Abu Dhabi for a stacked night of fights including the returns of Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev. In the main event of the evening, reigning lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will also return for a rematch with former lightweight titleholder Charles Oliveira.
However, much of the media’s attention as of late has been on Alexander Volkanovski’s desire to score his own rematch with Makhachev after coming up short of becoming a two-division UFC champion in February. Speaking about the pair running back their instant classic from UFC 284, Javier Mendez, who coaches Makhachev, is all for it but knows that they can’t even remotely look past an opponent as dangerous as Charles Oliveira.
“First of all, we have to get by Charles [Oliveira] to even think about Volkanovski,” Mendez said. “Ideally, what he said is what I want also, but Charles is not to be underestimated. Charles is a [former] champion and one of the greats for a reason. He’s one of the greats for damn sure in the lightweight division and his record says it. What he’s done. What’s he’s accomplished. Who he’s beaten. Charles Oliveira is not to be overlooked. So myself, I don’t want to think about that yet.”
Islam Makhachev scored a second-round submission over Oliveira in their first meeting last year, but ‘Do Bronx’ has since bounced back with an impressive first-round knockout of Beneil Dariush. If the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ manages to land another big win over Oliveira in Abu Dhabi, he will likely find himself once again matched up with the featherweight champ who took him to the limit in a Fight of the Year contender.