UFC 293 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland: Surprising Prop Bet for Main Event (Saturday, September 9)

UFC 293 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland: Surprising Prop Bet for Main Event (Saturday, September 9) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland Odds

Adesanya Odds
Strickland Odds
4.5 (+120 / -150)
Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia
Start Time
11:59 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday night and via Caesars

On Saturday the UFC returns to Syndey, Australia, with a 12-fight card for UFC 293, which is headlined by a middleweight title bout between current champion Israel Adesanya and No. 5-ranked contender Sean Strickland.

Adesanya recaptured middleweight gold with an emphatic knockout over Alex Pereira at UFC 287 in April. He'll look to defend the 185-pound championship successfully for the sixth time overall on Saturday in his 11th consecutive main event.

Strickland enters his fourth straight main event and sixth in his last seven fights. He's effective in the championship rounds, with excellent cardio and output, and the relatively short-notice booking shouldn't impact his abilities.

Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday's UFC 293 main event (10 p.m. ET main card, ESPN+ PPV) and utilize those factors to bet on Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland, who should make their cage walks at approximately 11:55 p.m. ET.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time17:4914:10
Weight184.8 pounds184.9 pounds
Date of birth7/22/19892/27/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min3.945.86
SS Accuracy49%41%
SS Absorbed Per Min2.884.28
SS Defense57%62%
Take Down Average0.061.00
TD Acc14%64%
TD Def77%84%
Submission Average0.20.2

Adesanya is the taller and longer fighter against Strickland, a former welterweight who moved up to the 185-pound division following a gruesome motorcycle accident and knee injury.

Strickland's physique and fighting style work well at middleweight. He pressures his opponents with nonstop output (more than 14 significant strike attempts per minute, or one every four seconds), fights behind a long and crisp jab, and knows when to change the tempo of his strikes – from peppering opponents with straight punches to loading up when he has them cornered.

By the numbers, Strickland seems like the type of fighter who could outpace Adesanya in a 25-minute fight. Strickland's forward pressure should force Adesanya to stay on the back foot, and he should land more head strikes based on typical shot selection, which could provide superior optics for the cageside judges.

Still, Adesanya excels at countering overzealous opponents, and he should find openings to hammer Strickland with kicks at all three levels.

The American Strickland has a typical boxing stance – with which he's heavy on his lead leg – and Adesanya will look to chop that down and force Strickland to switch stances.

Additionally, Adesanya should find openings for body kicks (as he did against Pereira), and he might be able to land a head kick – potentially his aesthetically pleasing question mark kick, which nearly clipped Marvin Vettori to close the show.

Strickland typically has solid striking defense (62% career). Still, he's better at avoiding head strikes from boxers – by hand fighting or using his arms and shoulders to shell from punches – than he is at defending a diversity of strikes to all three levels. And I expect Adesanya to beat him up on the lower half, hammering Strickland to the legs and body with kicks from distance.

If Strickland wants to win the fight, he must force Adesanya against the fence and land combinations and allow himself to switch for takedowns to keep the champion off balance.

However, Strickland's professional fights can devolve into sparring matches, in which he doesn't pursue his optimal path to victory. Strickland never attempted a takedown in his knockout loss against Pereira, and I doubt he would have shot even if the fight had extended.

And while Strickland might have a grappling advantage here if the fight hits the mat, Adesanya's defensive grappling should be more than sufficient to fend off any submission attempts, and he should be the quicker athlete in the scrambles.

Strickland is better at counter-grappling (84% takedown defense) and brawling rather than offensively mixing the martial arts. He has the tools and output to keep the fight competitive – even in a striking match – but he likely needs to secure a couple of takedowns to win this matchup.

Despite the potential volume discrepancy, it isn't easy to envision Strickland winning three out of five kickboxing rounds with Adesanya.

Even if Strickland can make this fight appear more competitive than the moneyline price indicates, he's likely a value trap as a bet unless he proactively grapples.

And while Adesanya is seemingly slowing late in his career, including losing clear minutes on the feet before knocking out Pereira, you might see the champion fight a bit looser against a much smaller and less powerful opponent than his behemoth Brazilian rival.

Adesanya vs. Strickland Pick

While it is difficult to make a fighter a significant favorite when the underdog possesses the offensive grappling upside, I still projected Adesanya as a -482 favorite (82.8% implied odds) in this matchup, and I would need +500 or better to consider betting Sean Strickland on the moneyline.

Strickland has the tools – pace, pressure, and output – to steal a close decision against Adesanya in a pure kickboxing match. And if he fights smart, Strickland might be able to land takedowns and gain top time to swing any 50-50 rounds in his favor.

Strickland by decision (projected +1192, listed +1200) is the closest thing I could find to a "value bet" at current prices, and you should consider backing Strickland in any "decision only" or point spread markets; Adesnya has more finishing upside, but if this fight goes all 25 minutes, I expect to see relatively competitive scorecards.

I am surprised, however, to find the goes the distance prop at plus money. Both men are durable with excellent cardio and solid submission defense. Aside from a flash head- or body-kick knockout from the champion, I don't foresee this matchup ending inside the distance consistently.

Adesanya and Strickland tend to prioritize minute-winning over damage, and both have gained a reputation for talking like killers outside of the cage – and then sparing once they hear the opening bell.

Bet the Over 4.5 rounds or "goes to decsion" prop at plus money, and wait for Strickland's monyline to blow out beyond +500.

The Pick: Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland goes to decision (+120 at Caesars)

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