UFC 293 predictions — Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland: Fight card, odds, prelims, preview, expert picks

Israel Adesanya kicks off his second stint as middleweight champion on Saturday when he faces Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 293. The event goes down from Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.

After suffering a dramatic late knockout loss to Alex Pereira at UFC 281, Adesanya came back to score his own knockout of Pereira to regain the championship at UFC 287. That win was Adesanya’s first over Pereira after also losing twice to his rival in kickboxing.

It appeared Adesanya would make the first defense of his new reign against Dricus Du Plessis, but Du Plessis was not available for UFC 293, resulting in Strickland getting the call on the strength of two wins in a row.

In the co-main event, crowd favorite Tai Tuivasa will look to bring his countrymen to their feet when he takes on Alexander Volkov in heavyweight action.

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of UFC 293 below.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 293 fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Israel Adesanya -650 vs. Sean Strickland +460, middleweight title
  • Alexander Volkov -250 vs. Tai Tuivasa +205, heavyweights
  • Manel Kape -380 vs. Felipe Dos Santos +300, flyweights
  • Justin Tafa -220 vs. Austen Lane +180, heavyweights
  • Anton Turkalj -120 vs. Tyson Pedro +100, light heavyweights
  • Carlos Ulberg -270 vs. Da Woon Jung +220, light heavyweights
  • Jack Jenkins -210 vs. Chepe Mariscal +175, featherweights
  • Jamie Mullarkey -260 vs. John Makdessi +210, lightweights
  • Nasrat Haqparast -475 vs. Landon Quinones +360, lightweights
  • Charlie Radtke -300 vs. Mike Diamond +240, welterweights
  • Shane Young -170 vs. Gabriel Miranda +145, featherweights
  • Kevin Jousset -155 vs. Kiefer Crosbie +130, welterweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 293 picks, predictions

Adesanya (c) vs. Strickland Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya
Volkov vs. Tuivasa Volkov Volkov Volkov Tuivasa Volkov
Kape vs. dos Santos Kape Kape Kape Kape Kape
Tafa vs. Lane Tafa Tafa Tafa Tafa Tafa
Pedro vs. Turkalj Pedro Pedro Pedro Pedro Pedro
Records to date (2023)
31-19 30-20 29-21 30-15 31-19

Adesanya vs. Strickland

Campbell: Strickland talks a good game and appears to have major-league cardio after going the five-round distance in four of his last six fights. But he’s a major underdog here for a reason. Without big-time power, a sturdy chin or a dominant wrestling game, Strickland simply doesn’t have the ammunition or requisite technical skills to be a bother for the champion. Even worse, Adesanya is a terrible style matchup for him and should be able to counter Strickland’s pressure with the same type of precise power shots that “The Last Stylebender” used to reclaim his title in April by knocking out Alex Pereira.  

Brookhouse: The first thing to ask in predicting a fight is “How does this fighter beat this opponent?” For Strickland, the only answer I can come up with is “Strickland beats Adesanya by landing one of the most shocking, out-of-nowhere punches in UFC history.” Strickland doesn’t have any notable power beyond the division average and his face-first approach is tailor-made for someone like Adesanya, who is one of the all-time elite sharpshooters in the sport’s history. Better wrestlers than Strickland have failed to do anything meaningful to Adesanya with takedowns. There’s just no path to victory for Strickland here that doesn’t involve what amounts to a “lucky punch.” 

Mahjouri: I’m not sure what significant threat Strickland presents beyond a lucky punch. Adesanya has defeated better strikers, better grapplers and more well-rounded fighters. Four weeks isn’t ideal for preparation, but it’s certainly enough to put together a winning strategy. I’ve seen people suggest that Strickland could replicate Kelvin Gastelum’s approach of brawling with Adesanya, but that was four years ago. Adesanya has finally dialed in how to convert his world-class kickboxing to MMA and won’t be pulled into a firefight with a lesser foe. The champion will retain via stoppage or a dull decision where he neutralizes Strickland.

Volkov vs. Tuivasa

Campbell: Tuivasa should have plenty of motivation fresh off a two-fight losing skid and an uncharacteristic 10-month layoff. But as long as he continues to operate in an all-or-nothing manner with his brawling style, this is a fight that the bigger and more technical Volkov should be able to win. Volkov also has a distinct wrestling advantage in his back pocket, should he need it. Riding his own two-fight win streak, both by knockout, the time is now for Volkov to survive and advance by any means necessary in order to hold place in the heavyweight title picture. At 6-foot-7, he should be able to do just that as long as he’s careful to not be lured into a war. 

Who wins UFC 293: Adesanya vs. Strickland, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 293, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.

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