After dropping the title at UFC 293, what’s next for Israel Adesanya?

MMA: UFC 293 - Adesanya vs Strickland
Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 293, the middleweight title was on the line. Israel Adesanya (24-3) was getting his wish in fighting close to home as he was headlining the Australian card against top contender Sean Strickland (28-5).

Originally, the promotion wanted Adesanya to face off against Dricus Du Plessis. However, DDP couldn’t make the quick turnaround and Sean Strickland was willing to step up. Adesanya wanted to headline this card badly so Strickland was given the fight despite some hesitancy from the promotion.

Adesanya was a massive betting favorite on Saturday night. Little to no one was giving Strickland a chance at knocking off Adesanya. However, Strickland would go on to shock the world. Adesanya looked like he just couldn’t get comfortable on Saturday and even was dropped badly in the first round by the challenger.

Adesanya struggled with the pressure of Strickland and never found his range. When the fight was over, Adesanya had been touched up while Strickland looked like he didn’t even get hit. The scorecards were all 4-1 and Sean Strickland pulled off one of the greatest upsets in UFC history.

What’s next after UFC 293?

Adesanya lost the middleweight title last year to Alex Pereira but he immediately won it back in a rematch back in April. Now, for the second time in less than 12 months, Adesanya has tasted defeat and lost his middleweight title. So, what’s next for the two-time UFC middleweight champion?

I think the best thing would be a little time off. Adesanya has been extremely active as a champion. He could use a little time off to let his body and mind recover from this loss. Once he’s ready to come back, there are plenty of options. As Daniel Cormier said on Saturday night, I don’t think Adesanya should be the next challenger for Strickland.

I believe that Dricus Du Plessis should get the shot. Now, Adesanya could definitely fight the winner upon his return. Both storylines are there. With DDP, there’s the African storyline and with Strickland there’s the rematch. I wouldn’t rule out the UFC going in this direction especially with Strickland coming out clean after the title fight and DDP being ready to go.

A return fight against Khamzat Chimaev could happen in a title eliminator if he wants to come back sooner regardless of whether or not a title is on the line. Another option would be letting the title fight between Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka play out. If Pereira wins, perhaps Adesanya moves up to challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title once again.