Israel Adesanya’s middleweight title loss to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 was one of the most shocking upsets in the history of the sport, but ‘The Last Stylebender’s’ long-time coach Eugene Bareman is confident that his charge will be able to draw on his vast experience in combat sports to bounce back and reclaim the title.
“This is not a normal athlete by any stretch – this is a unique athlete,” Bareman told Combat TV. “I’m not talking about his physical and mental capabilities. I’m talking about over 100 fights at the highest level.
“No one else has these sorts of athletes because no one else has done the extensive work that we’ve done outside of MMA to gain this type of high-level experience. This is an athlete who’s seen everything, who’s had every type of game plan imposed on him, and every sort of adjustment, every sort of look he’s had in front of him.”
Gameplans aside for a moment though, Bareman believes that the fact Strickland was able to drop Adesanya in the opening round had a big role to play in the way the rest of the fight played out.
“I thought he (Israel Adesanya) did really well with the knockdown and coming back from it but I have no doubt that anybody who’s actually had a fight and knows when you suffer a concussion and get knocked down like that, things happen.
“Over the whole duration of the fight, you just don’t know what the knockdown does,” Bareman continued. “Has it slowed your reactions down, has it slowed your mental processing down? The knockdown – or the concussion, they can do a myriad of things so I have no doubt that that would have some effect and which is what it’s meant to do.”
Bareman isn’t blaming the loss solely on the knockdown though and admits that Strickland’s unorthodox style was an issue, but it’s clear he feels that’s something they’ll be able to deal with if they are granted the immediate rematch they are seeking.
“Sean brought something unique, and it was his awkwardness, and we thought we’d dealt with it. We have to do a better job at dealing with the style that he defends in and some of the intricacies he brings to the table. But, Israel’s seen everything. Not every athlete that gets to the UFC does – barely any of them do. None of them have 100 fights at the highest level.”