Saturday’s UFC 293 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Sydney, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Qudos Bank Arena.
1 – Sean Strickland
Sean Strickland’s title-winning effort over Israel Adesanya won’t be immortalized on highlight reels (though maybe his early knockdown of “The Last Stylebender” will), but it was a testament to the power of fundamentals in this most unpredictable of sports. One-twos, tight defense and consistent pressure were the keys for the new middleweight champion, leaving Adesanya with one puzzle that he couldn’t figure out like he had so many others. It was a master class by Strickland, and I am more than curious to see what Adesanya has in his back pocket strategically for a rematch.
2 – Alexander Volkov
Speaking of fundamentals, Alexander Volkov is another fighter who doesn’t light up ESPN SportsCenter on a nightly basis, but he does know how to do one thing better than most, and that’s win. Last Saturday’s submission of Tai Tuivasa (which was SportsCenter worthy) made it three straight for Volkov, who continues to evolve his game even after nearly seven years in the UFC. With heavyweight champ Jon Jones tied up with Stipe Miocic in November, an all-Russian showdown with number one contender Sergei Pavlovich is quite a matchup for late 2023-early 2024.
3 – Carlos Ulberg
It’s funny to see how fans turned on Carlos Ulberg after he lost his first UFC bout to Kennedy Nzaechukwu in 2021. And in a Fight of the Night, no less! But the New Zealander’s bandwagon is getting close to capacity once again after his UFC 293 submission of Da Woon Jung in Sydney. That’s five consecutive wins and four straight finishes, and while Ulberg is still a work in progress in a division full of veteran talent, he’s earned his crack at the Top 15, and he shouldn’t be counted out if he gets one.
4 – Nasrat Haqparast
With his mind clearly on the people devastated by an earthquake in Morocco, Nasrat Haqparast would not have been criticized in the slightest if he packed it in when the leg kicks of Landon Quinones began landing with frightening and thudding frequency. But Haqparast never backed down, never stopped pressuring his opponent and never stopped throwing punches. It was one of the grittiest performances of 2023, and a well-deserved victory for him.
5 – Justin Tafa
In a heavyweight division where one swing of a four-ounce glove can change and / or end a fight, Justin Tafa is going to be a problem for anyone he faces. Of course, there’s the reality that a grappling-heavy attack may be his kryptonite, but he is making efforts in the gym to at least work on staying upright, and if a slugfest breaks out, putting your money on the “Bad Man” wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
UFC 293: Adesanya vs Strickland took place live from Qudos Arena in Sydney, Australia on September 9, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!