Michael Bisping believes that Israel Adesanya's mindset played a role in his defeat against Sean Strickland.
In the recent UFC 293 headliner at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) suffered a surprising loss, being dropped and outstruck by Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC), resulting in the loss of his middleweight title.
During the fight, Strickland came close to finishing Adesanya at the end of the first round. Bisping expressed his dissatisfaction with Adesanya's reaction and that of his corner, criticizing them for their apparent dismissiveness toward the gravity of the situation.
“There was certainly an air of arrogance in the corner of Israel Adesanya and from Izzy himself,” Bisping said on TNT Sports’ Fight Week. “Even when he was dropped in the first round and very, very close to being finished, he had kind of a smug look on his face like, ‘God bless this guy, he landed a shot. Overhand? OK, no worries.’ No concern, no look of stress, no worry, no realization that he’s in there with a real threat.”
Bisping also questioned Adesanya fighting off his backfoot and relying on his counters, and doesn’t think he was active enough when throwing strikes.
“The reason he almost got the finish in Round 1 was because Izzy was moving backward, and Izzy relies on a lot of fast footwork,” Bisping said. “When you’ve backed up all the way to the fence, there’s no further to move back and you can’t even lean back as far and that was his own demise.
“That’s because he was backing up the whole time. You don’t win fights by backing up. Granted, we have seen masterclasses. … But you’ve got to have some forward pressure, as well, and dancing away all night, backfooting and backtracking, and not throwing very much is no surprise. That is not the recipe to win a fight.”
UFC president Dana White said Adesanya should get an immediate rematch against Strickland, but Bisping wants to see the division move on.
“If it’s me, we’ve got Dricus Du Plessis right there. We’ve got Robert Whittaker. We’ve got Khamzat Chimaev,” Bisping said. “This would allow the division to move on and have a breath of fresh air and maybe some new eras begin. In the meantime, Izzy can go away and have a well-deserved break.
“I am not taking away from Sean Strickland. I thought he did a sensational job. Congratulations to him. But I do think there is something to the schedule that Izzy has kept – which, good for him. It was incredible, but also, to a certain point, possibly to his detriment, as well.”