UFC 297 Main Event: Strickland vs. Du Plessis
UFC 297 MAIN EVENT: STRICKLAND VS. DU PLESSIS – Heading to Toronto for the first time in over five years, the UFC brings another championship double-header north of the border. The co-main event features the vacant women’s bantamweight title on the line, after Amanda Nunes retired back in June, as Raquel Pennington takes on Mayra Bueno Silva.
However, this article will focus on the middleweight championship that is on the line as Sean Strickland looks to defend his title for the first time after pulling off the third biggest UFC upset in 2023 by dethroning Israel Adesanya.
Dricus Du Plessis intends on keeping his unblemished UFC record intact as he vies for the 185lb strap.
Will the pressure and unorthodox striking style of Strickland reign supreme again? Or will Du Plessis add another finish to his violent resume and wrap the gold around his waist? Read on to see how these two unusual styles clash and which will come out on top.
After starting his UFC career as a welterweight, Strickland went 7-3 with his losses coming to top welterweights like Usman, Ponzinibbio, and Zaleski. However, in late 2018, Strickland was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that saw him take two years to return from.
He decided to move up to middleweight and it was likely the best move of his career. The Sean Strickland we know today was born; he became a genuine version of himself while also defeating his first five opponents upon his return. He ran into a two-fight losing streak against Pereira and Cannonier but has since bounced back and earned the middleweight title.
What makes Strickland so special is his unorthodox style of striking. He strikes in live action like he does when he is sparring. Barely giving his opponents an inch in space, he calmly and methodically crushes the distance with feints, constant forward movement, and parrying shots with his defense.
That allows him to stay in his opponent’s face while ripping combinations to the body and head. His durability has held up in all but one of his fights, but that has allowed him to dictate the pace of fights and break his opponents while doing so.
Dricus Du Plessis
There was not a whole lot of hype on Du Plessis upon his UFC debut back in 2020, though the hardcore heads knew that if anyone had a win over Roberto Soldic, they were someone to pay attention to.
Du Plessis carried his finishing ways into the UFC by finishing his first two opponents before hurting Brad Tavares numerous times and winning the first decision of his career. He then went on to finish his next three opponents in emphatic fashion to earn himself this highly coveted title shot.
Du Plessis finished his first 8 of 11 wins by submission but has recently turned into someone who relies more on his knockout power. The explosivity, freak-athleticism, and power that Du Plessis can generate are the reasons he has been so successful.
Many have questioned his cardio, but his last three fights have gone into the second round, and he has still managed to get his hand raised.
His body language never looks that great, but he is always able to kick it into another gear when it looks like he is down and out. This weekend will be a true test of his cardio, especially against the level and style of opponent he has in front of him.
Betting a Du Plessis fight is similar to betting a Francis Ngannou fight. We know they lack some technical aspects to their game and are usually at a skill disadvantage. However, their raw athleticism and power makes up for their lack of technical skill. This fight mainly comes down to whether Strickland can handle the early power of Du Plessis.
If he can, he should be able to take control and dictate the pace of this fight going into the latter rounds. I expect Strickland to command the center of the cage while rolling with the shots Du Plessis throws his way.
Some folks believe Du Plessis can get the better of Strickland on the mat, but Strickland is no slouch on the mat, he just prefers to strike. In these circumstances, I prefer banking on the guy with better overall skills and more paths to victory, in this case all signs point to Sean Strickland defending his title and getting a late stoppage. His moneyline price is not a bad look, maybe sprinkling his late round props could make it even more fruitful.