The 32-year-old Strickland, who has a record of 28 wins and 5 losses, won the fight by unanimous decision after all three judges scored it 49-46.
Addressing the press conference post-match, Adesanya openly acknowledged that he was defeated by the superior fighter.
“I had a different plan in mind, but sometimes life doesn’t go the way you want it to. Win or lose, I didn’t plan to say much tonight. But the truth is, I lost to the better fighter,” he said.
Adesanya declined to answer any more questions and deferred to his trainer, Eugene Bareman, to handle the interviews.
On the other hand, Strickland was very happy after the outcome of the fight saying, “I can’t believe this is real. I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t cry often, but right now, I’m trying to hold back my tears. I’ve sacrificed a lot for this sport, and I thought I’d be leaving the ring with some bruises and cuts. I’m a bit surprised that didn’t happen.”
Despite the enthusiastic backing from the fans at Qudos Bank Arena and the high expectations of an Adesanya victory, the American, Strickland, managed to connect with more impactful punches throughout the match. Adesanya faced difficulties in finding an effective way to counter him.
In the initial round, Strickland landed a decisive, forceful blow that sent Adesanya to the canvas. He capitalized on this by delivering a rapid succession of strikes, ultimately concluding the round in his favor.
Adesanya found his footing in the second and third rounds, landing effective kicks and right-hand punches. However, he exposed himself to Strickland’s body and head strikes.
As the match unfolded, Adesanya shifted towards a more defensive stance, struggling to breach Strickland’s formidable defense. Sensing an opening, Strickland launched a relentless series of punches and kicks in the closing minute, ultimately clinching both the victory and the middleweight title.
Reflecting on his victory, Strickland said, “You don’t fight that guy with that many highlight-reel knockouts. The majority of my friends, he’s beaten pretty easily. I was even kind of doubting myself at times but I’ve got to say, the fans in Australia, you guys motivated me.”