Dricus du Plessis outpointed Sean Strickland to claim a split-decision win and the UFC middleweight title at UFC 297 at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday 21, 2024. Du is South Africa’s first ever world champion in the promotion.
The main event proved once again why UFC is one of the biggest entertainment sports today. A thrilling fight and despite some stiff jabs from Strickland, who won the belt in September with a huge upset of Israel Adesanya, Du Plessis had the better of the opening exchanges.
The 30-year-old continued to push the American back in the subsequent rounds but while he enjoyed plenty of success with takedowns he could not keep Strickland on the mat for any length of time.
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Du Plesis continued to mix up his striking, aiming thudding kicks to the body and landing several left high kicks to keep Strickland guessing. With a stream of blood running from a cut on his left eye, Strickland opened up late in the final round with a series of huge punches but was unable to find a finish and the fight went to the judges’ scorecards. Dricus Du Plessis UFC Champion
Du Plessis earned the split decision victory and sank to his knees in tears before thanking his coaches. Dricus Du Plessis UFC Champion
“I honestly thought with the take-downs, I made sure in every round. I could feel it was a close one, I definitely gave him the first round,” a triumphant Du Plesis said in a post-fight interview before calling out former champ Adesanya.