Dricus Du Plessis Wins UFC 297 Middleweight Belt

The South African MMA fighter Dricus “Stillknocks” du Plessis has made history by becoming the first fighter from his country to win a UFC title after defeating the defending champion, Sean Strickland. In the fierce match that took place in Toronto on January 21, 2024, Du Plessis claimed his victory after defeating his rival after a rough fight that lasted five rounds.

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In an interview before the match with the Canadian Press, both fighters sat down to promote their upcoming match, and Strickland promised in his typical no-filter manner that the fight would be “to the death.” Thankfully, the fight did not hit that stage, but after the fight, the winner supported an extensively scratched, bloody left eye and arrived for his victory interview the next day on crutches. His defeated opponent could not make it to the following interviews and offered his views through his social media posts, stating, “Man, that head butt really made it difficult to see, but I thought we got the job done. Blood and all. Onto the next one.” 

The ferocious match between the defending champion Sean Strickland and the determined challenger Dricus Du Plessis took place in front of a sellout crowd of 18,599 at Scotiabank Arena. The close match saw the competitors throw 310 powerful strikes, featuring Strickland’s more technical piston-like jabs and Du Plessis’s powerful “stillknocks”! At one point during the match, both of Du Plessis’s eyes swelled shut as a result of Strickland’s hits, but his innate determination kept him strong on his feet, and he kept returning with his powerful strikes, landing six out of the eleven attempted takedowns throughout the match. At the end of the bout, both fighters boasted bloodied faces as proof of their ferocious fight. 

Ultimately, Du Plessis emerged victorious in the middleweight title fight, capturing Strickland’s championship belt after a grueling and bloody encounter. Like all UFC fights, this final match was conducted by three judges. Concluding the fight, the judges, Derek Cleary and Eric Colon, gave out scores of 48-47 in favor of Du Plessis, while Sal D’Amato scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Strickland, resulting in a split decision.

The fight garnered significant attention and discussion on social media platforms, as well as within the mixed martial arts (MMA) community. An array of dedicated fans publicly expressed their support for the reigning champion, Sean Strickland. However, by the end of the match, the arena was resounding with “DDP” chants for the new middleweight champion.

This highly anticipated match created a great deal of excitement among the fans, mainly due to the increasing hostility between the two fighters. Before the championship match, an intense confrontation transpired between the two fighters during a press conference held in Las Vegas. Furthermore, a physical altercation also erupted within the stands at UFC 296, escalating the feud between the combatants. Strickland reportedly threatened to stab Du Plessis if he brought up the subject of the alleged violent abuse Strickland experienced from his deceased father when he was a child. These remarks earned him the sympathy of quite a few fans, and Strickland’s fan support saw a significant increase.  

The Las Vegas-based MMA fighter achieved notoriety after his most recent victory, largely due to his candid and unreserved approach during interviews and on his social media accounts. His public statements, which often courted controversy and covered a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from LGBTQ issues to Justin Trudeau, elevated his profile within the UFC fandom. However, in contrast to his typically vocal and outspoken nature, Strickland displayed remarkable grace and humility in the aftermath of his defeat, for a short while at least. Now he is back to being his usual self.

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