Strickland stuns Adesanya to win UFC title

Strickland stuns Adesanya to win UFC title

Strickland stuns Adesanya to win UFC title

Polarizing Sean Strickland unleashed a flurry of powerful punches to defeat champion Israel Adesanya and claim the UFC middleweight title after a grueling fight in Sydney on Sunday.

In the main event of UFC 293, American Strickland stunned hot favorite Adesanya to win the 185-pound belt with a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) to prevail in a five-round slugfest.

At the sold-out Qudos Bank Arena, Strickland landed several stinging punches to the head and had Adesanya on the back foot throughout.

"Never in a million years did I think I would be here," said Strickland, who inflicted New Zealander Adesanya's third defeat from 27 fights.

 "I thought I would be walking away a little broken up. I'm a little shocked that didn't happen. This is the first time I'm lost for words."

Strickland, who caused controversy ahead of the fight with misogynistic comments about putting women back in the kitchen, agreed to fight on late notice after Adesanya's South African rival Dricus du Plessis was unavailable.

Fifth-ranked Strickland earned his title shot after wins over Abus Magomedov and Nassourdine Imavov.

In the other heavyweight bout, New Zealander Justin Tafa knocked out American Austen Lane in the first round after landing a left hook flush on the chin.

It was the second UFC event in Australia this year after lightweight champion Islam Makhachev overcame local Alexander Volkanovski at Perth Arena in February.