Strickland dethroned middleweight champion Adesanya with a unanimous decision win this past Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. Strickland dropped Adesanya at the end of Round 1 and was able to keep him on the backfoot for the majority of the fight.
Atlas said Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) sticking to the basics was his key to victory.
“We all knew that obviously Izzy was the more dynamic talent here and a different kind of striker, almost one in a millennium,” Atlas said on the UFC 293 post show. “Almost makes you think about Anderson Silva, guys like that, with that kind of pure ability to make his own music, as I was saying yesterday. But this guy kind of pulled the plug out of the music and really cut off the music, and he did it in a simple way, in a conventional way, in a basic way. Basic is good sometimes. He did it with a jab, he set the table with the jab, and he ate with the right hand all night long.
“And as far as defense, he didn’t forget about that. That was his offense. Very simple, not complex, but efficient, effective. But his defense? Just stepping out of range, just controlling range, being calm in an un-calm environment, and just getting a little out of range, a little bit back in. Not too much out, just enough to make him miss and then close enough where he could come back with that jab and control and dictate. The greatest thing about him tonight, he was steady. Sometimes steady is better than flashy, better than fast, better than electric, you know? No music tonight. It was quiet.”
Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) uncharacteristically was unable to get any offense going. Strickland’s demeanor didn’t appear too confident in the lead-up to the fight but was in cruise control once the fight started.
“In boxing, in my world, we would have been saying he (Adesanya) needs to put the left behind the right hand,” Atlas continued. “Because you can block so many, but then if you put enough together while the guy’s handcuffed, you can get to him. Because when the guy’s blocking too many, he’s handcuffed too long, he can’t do nothing, eventually you get through. He didn’t put that extra punch together, and I’m taking nothing away, obviously, from Strickland, but that helped a little bit.
“And one other thing about Strickland, he doesn’t beat himself. There’s something to be said. … But he’s changed. I was even saying in my podcast, and I was even tweeting it out during the week where he’s changed. He’s made a transition where he’s not the caveman no more. He’s got that club, but he don’t got the torch no more. He’s got a flashlight now. He’s made a change, he really has. When he was acting nuts the other day, you know what I said? I said maybe, just maybe, crazy like a fox.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 293.