AFL and NRL football stars join Chris Hemsworth’s right-hand man and NSW Premier Chris Minns to witness one of the biggest upsets in martial arts history at UFC 293 .
- Australian stars show up at UFC 293 in Sydney
- NSW Premier Chris Minns seen leaving event
- Sean Strickland shocked the world with a surprise victory
Latrell Mitchell, Tom Hawkins and New South Wales Premier Chris Minns led the stars in attendance at the UFC 293 event at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Saturday.
Sean Strickland stunned the MMA world by pulling off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by winning the middleweight crown from Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision.
NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell was on hand for the fight, posting a photo on social media with No Limit boxing promoters George and Matt Rose.
Luke Zocchi, personal trainer and good friend of Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth, was spotted leaving the arena with AFL star Tom Hawkins after the event.
Panthers point guard Nathan Cleary sat front row to support his Drink West business partner Tyson Pedro, who earned a knockout victory early on in the main card.
Tom Hawkins (yellow shirt) pictured leaving Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney with Chris Hemsworth’s right-hand man Luke Zocchi (black jacket)
NSW Premier Chris Minns was also seen leaving the event on Sunday.
Cleary’s other business partner, UFC heavyweight knockout artist Tai Tuivasa, didn’t fare as well and was introduced in front of the sold-out Sydney crowd.
Elsewhere, Olympic gold medalist swimmer Kyle Chalmers was also in attendance, posting footage of the crowd pledging their support for his friend Tyson Pedro.
NSW Premier Chris Minns, who pledged $16 million to fund three UFC events in NSW, was also spotted leaving the fight festival.
Minns was interviewed Monday morning by 2GB’s Ben Fordham about the experience, explaining that his wife wouldn’t let him take his children with him.
Asked by Fordham if he would let his son become a UFC fighter, the prime minister defended the popular combat sport, which is often criticized for putting fighters’ health at risk due to the concussions they suffer.
“I have to be honest with you – I think it gets a bad reputation,” he said.
“Jujitsu and wrestling are the foundations of the sport…in many cases they are not as dangerous as the blows to the head that occur regularly in professional boxing.
“As a result, many parents enroll their children in, for example, grappling, jujitsu, wrestling… and I think that’s a good thing.”
NRL star Latrell Mitchell (second left) was pictured getting in on the action with boxing promoters George (left) and Matt Rose (front)
Geelong star Tom Hawkins (left) and Chris Hemsworth’s coach Luke Zocchi (second left, front row) are pictured cageside with friends.
Sean Strickland is pictured throwing a punch at Israel Adesanya during his victory over the underdog, shocking the MMA world.
Fifth-placed Strickland shocked the world with his victory, with all three judges scoring the fight 49-46 for the American.
Strickland survived something of a comeback from Adesanya in the second, then took the remaining stanzas of the contest with a brilliant effort that saw him continually pressure his rival and land big shots.
The new world champion was overcome with emotion in the octagon after the decision was announced and told the crowd: “Am I fucking dreaming?” Will I wake up? Someone hit me !
“I don’t cry a lot but I’m trying to keep my shit together right now.”
Commentator and former world heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was also stunned by the result.
“It was a mountain he wasn’t supposed to climb. He wasn’t even supposed to be in that fight,” he said, referring to the fact that Strickland was a late replacement for the injured Dricus du Plessis.
‘It’s crazy. This is why this sport is unlike any other. You don’t know, you just don’t know.
“It was very clear and all the judges understood it well. It was four rounds to one for Sean Strickland, and he beat one of the greatest middleweights of all time.