The intriguing Sean Strickland makes his first title defence. He defeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 293. The American will clash with Dricus du Plessis in an exciting matchup at UFC 297. The two seem to have squashed their beef, but that will not matter when the cage door shuts.
Strickland is a very entertaining fighter both in and out of the Octagon. He is never shy to say what he thinks; the champ has a big following. The 32-year-old impressively won the belt in Australia. It is safe to say Strickland shocked the MMA world when he dethroned Adesanya. He enters the contest with a professional record of 28-5 with 15 finishes. ‘Tarzan’ is riding a three-fight winning streak heading into his title defence. Strickland has great boxing, especially defensively. One of the main tools he utilises is the Philly Shell. The champion is also good on the ground but rarely uses his grappling skills. Strickland is an excellent fighter and is a difficult person to beat.
Dricus Du Plessis
Du Plessis is a dangerous fighter and a rough outing for anybody. The South African is coming off the most significant career win. He finished Robert Whittaker. Like Strickland, he is on a winning streak. Du Plessis has beaten the likes of Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, and Darren Till. He is 20-2 with 19 finishes and is fun to watch. Du Plessis is a true five-tool player who can go wherever the fight takes him. His past fights have proven that he has dynamite in his fists and can finish the contest anytime. After getting nose surgery, his cardio has improved. Du Plessis will look to become the first-ever South African UFC champion.
The middleweight division is in an exciting place right now. There are many exciting fighters at 185. Du Plessis and Strickland are the two best in the division right now.
Both men met in the middle from the opening bell and traded blows in the centre of the cage, with both having success. Dricus landed two solid headkicks, while being met with the Strickland jab. After some time on the feet, Dricus times a perfect takedown and sends Sean crashing to the canvas. Sean was able to bounce back to his feet on both occasions and end the round with the best shot of the fight thus far.
The pattern of the fight remained the same in the second. Dricus and Strickland meeting in the middle downloading data. Strickland’s jab the major factor thus far landing at will. Dricus struggling to find the target, but making minor adjustments to correct that mid-fight. Once again, Dricus shoots for a single leg taking Strickland to the canvas, with Strickland returning to his feet immediately. Better round for the challenger.
Dricus is growing with confidence as the fight goes on beginning to find his distance more regular. He’s dictated the entire third round landing a variety of strikes. Meanwhile Strickland, still picks his shots and utilizes his jab.
Strickland’s right hand starts to find the mark while Dricus still pressures him against the cage in the opening minute. In a wild exchange, Dricus takes Strickland to the canvas again and controls him on two occasions before the champion finds his way back to his feet. Another strong round for the challenger who has the champ cut.
Fifth and final round and Dricus pushes forward again landing several clean shots. Both men take to the centre and exchange 1-2’s. It’s a game of jabs and trading in the pocket. Both men leaving it all in their willing to empty the gas tank and give the fans that grand finale, and that’s exactly what they did. They went out swinging.
Official result: Dricus du Plessis def. Sean Strickland by split decision.