Robert Whittaker: Israel Adesanya looked off at UFC 293 because Sean Strickland ‘shut him down’

Robert Whittaker says Sean Strickland is the reason Israel Adesanya looked off at UFC 293.

Strickland (27-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) scored a massive upset win when he dethroned middleweight champion Adesanya (24-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) by unanimous decision this past Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

Whittaker never expected Adesanya to run through Strickland like the odds suggested and was impressed by the challenger’s ability to nullify Adesanya’s game.

“Strickland had an answer for every one of Izzy’s techniques,” Whittaker said on his MMArcade Podcast. “For every one of Izzy’s strengths, Strickland had an answer. He was cutting off the cage perfectly, he was in that threat space where Izzy’s leg kicks were taken out of concern. Strickland, his defensive game was on point.

“With Izzy throwing those looping shots as he kind of rope-a-dopes on the fence there, Strickland was patient, just always keeping Izzy on the backfoot, which was taking out of his gas. And, mate, he just kept it consistent from the very first second of the fight to the 25th. It was honestly a great performance from Strickland.”

UFC president Dana White thinks Adesanya should get an immediate rematch against Strickland, claiming that “The Last Stylebender” looked slow. But Whittaker said that has everything to do with Strickland’s effective game plan, not Adesanya having a bad night.

“I see a lot of things popping up saying that Izzy looked off,” Whittaker continued. “I don’t think he had an off night. He looked off because Sean shut him down. Izzy wasn’t given any space in the open floor to do any of his tricky kicks. He wasn’t given any space to work any of his flinch games with his punches. He wasn’t given the chance. Sean was in his face from the first bell ring.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie