Let’s just be honest about it: the fight we wanted to see Israel Adesanya in is not happening at UFC 293 this weekend.

While “The Last Stylebender” is set to take on Sean Strickland, he of the much-hyped “Man Dance,” in Sydney, it was a grudge match with Dricus Du Plessis that fans, critics, heck pretty much everyone wanted.

That fight has fallen victim to timing, and so Strickland gets the nod, stepping up on the strength of a two-fight win streak and a penchant for saying exactly the wrong thing— a politically incorrect tendency that has allowed him to grow a sizable following in recent years.

The fight itself, however, beyond being a second (or even third) choice, doesn’t exactly feel competitive. At least, our team doesn’t think so — not a single one of nine writers responding selected Strickland to get the win. Are we being unfair? In MMA, where anything can happen and one punch ends your night, maybe. But Izzy is a lock in our main card staff picks.

Let’s see how we picked the rest of the PPV show.

Writer / FightPedro vs. TurkaljTafa vs. LaneKape vs. dos SantosVolkov vs. TuivasaAdesanya vs. Strickland
Jamie Theodosi (99-56)
Alex Behunin (98-63)
Val Dewar (96-62)
Chris Prawdzik (96-64)
Cade Morehouse (48-36)
Jay Anderson (87-80)
Dylan Rush (82-79)
Eddie Law (76-82)
Patrick McCorry (0-0)

Along with Adesanya, there is another lock on the night, and that’s Manel Kape. This one is a little more understandable: Kape was supposed to fight Kai Kara-France. Instead, he gets Felipe dos Santos, who was expected to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series just a couple of weeks ago. Brazil’s dos Santos is arguably UFC-ready, so this is far from a bad signing, but fighting Kape, a former RIZIN champ, in your first fight with the company is a tall order.

Justin Tafa and Tyson Pedro, two athletes competing in their own back yard at UFC 293, are heavy favorites to win their respective bouts, though there were some dissenting votes. Things are a little more split for the co-main event, which features heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tai Tuivasa.


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