Dricus du Plessis has become the new middleweight champion after beating Sean Strickland by split decision at UFC 297 in Canada. Employing a strategic blend of takedowns and striking prowess, du Plessis executed a game plan that pushed his opponent to the edge without giving him a break.
Throughout the intense contest, du Plessis strategically opened cuts on Strickland’s face, showcasing both his offensive and defensive capabilities. Despite the tight nature of the fight, two judges scored it 48-47 in favor of du Plessis, earning him the championship via split decision. This victory marked the end of Strickland’s brief reign atop the 185-pound division.
Reflecting on his performance, du Plessis highlighted the effectiveness of his takedowns and acknowledged the close nature of the fight. He expressed confidence in his strategy, particularly in making Strickland go backward, a tactic aimed at capitalizing on his opponent’s physique and inducing fatigue. Du Plessis also commended Strickland for his resilience and described the bout as an honor.
The initial rounds saw Strickland sticking to his game plan, utilizing a lead jab and well-timed kicks. Despite du Plessis’ aggressive counterattacks, Strickland maintained a consistent jabbing strategy, causing significant swelling over du Plessis’s left eye. The South African fighter, however, showcased resilience, continuously pressuring Strickland.
As the fight progressed, du Plessis intensified his offensive output, delivering impactful strikes and effectively countering Strickland’s jabs. Strategic body shots and a well-timed inside elbow opened cuts on Strickland, leading to a takedown by du Plessis. The fight culminated in an exhilarating final round, with both fighters unleashing powerful strikes in a bid to secure victory.
Despite the closely contested nature of the bout, du Plessis emerged victorious, with Strickland acknowledging the war they had engaged in. Strickland, while expressing some saltiness over the decision, extended his congratulations to the new champion and expressed a desire for a potential rematch, which the new champion is not interested in.
Du Plessis, in his post-fight address, did not mince words, calling out former champion Israel Adesanya and expressing a readiness to settle the score. This gives Adesanya a chance at fighting for the title one more time.