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May 22, 2024

Strickland and Du Plessis Set for Grudge Match at UFC 297

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Jan 19, 2024

Fighters Make Weight Amid Continued Verbal Sparring

Middleweights Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis both successfully made weight on Friday, clearing the path for their highly anticipated title fight Saturday night at UFC 297 in Canada. The main event grudge match caps off a fight week that has seen no shortage of continued hostility between Strickland, the reigning 185-pound champion, and challenger Du Plessis.

Strickland weighed in at 184.5 pounds, while Du Plessis registered 185 on the scale. Their faceoff after the weigh-ins was intense, but devoid of any physical confrontation like their impromptu scuffle earlier this week at a promotional event. Each fighter will be aiming not only for the belt, but a measure of retribution on a foe they have made clear they deeply despise.

Bad Blood Fuels Anticipated Clash

The origins of the rivarly trace back to last November, when Du Plessis called out Strickland on social media shortly after the latter won the middleweight title. Strickland responded with threatening messages, claiming he would stab Du Plessis if they ever fought. The discourse escalated from there over subsequent months, setting the stage for an extremely hostile fight buildup this week.

At Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference, Strickland doubled down on his violent rhetoric, saying he was willing to “die” in the Octagon as long as it meant Du Plessis would as well. The South African challenger was undeterred, however, responding that he would need to have a gun for their fight, given Strickland’s “psycho” nature. Their exchange reached a boiling point at Thursday’s public workout event, when Strickland aggressively approached Du Plessis, leading to a brief physical altercation.

UFC president Dana White condemned the scuffle and imposed undisclosed fines on both men. The incident, along with all the pre-fight vitriol, has only enhanced public intrigue in their championship showdown.

Home Crowd Backing Strickland

Saturday’s card will take place at Montreal’s Bell Centre, marking the promotion’s first event in the Canadian city since 2010. The raucous environment should favor Strickland, who has emerged as a popular figure among fans despite his outlandish behavior. According to reports, UFC 297 has already broken the arena’s record for live gate revenue from a combat sports event.

The 31-year-old American champion owns an impressive 16-3 record in the UFC. He is currently on a six-fight win streak that includes triumphs over Uriah Hall and Jared Cannonier prior to capturing gold last September. Strickland’s unorthodox style and fight mentality pose challenges for any opponent.

Du Plessis, 28, sports a 6-1 mark in the Octagon since joining the UFC three years ago. He has looked sharp while taking a methodical path up the middleweight ranks. Although Du Plessis lacks Strickland’s championship pedigree, he believes his opponent’s volatility could be a weakness he is poised to exploit.

Keys to Victory

Strickland

  • Impose will through pressure and volume
  • Wrestle to neutralize Du Plessis’ striking
  • Feed off crowd energy and chaotic style

Du Plessis

  • Counter effectively and avoid brawling
  • Take fight into later rounds
  • Stay composed and capitalize on mistakes

What’s Next for the Winner?

An Israel Adesanya clash likely awaits the victor. The dominant middleweight ruler was recently cleared to return from a bicep injury that has kept him sidelined since last April.

Adesanya has traded verbal jabs with Strickland over social media, even revealing that he warned Du Plessis about taking a fight with “No Chill.” If Strickland retains his belt, the stars appear aligned for a blockbuster championship unification bout against Adesanya later this year. The buildup would undoubtedly be colorful, with Adesanya looking to halt Strickland’s momentum.

Meanwhile, a Du Plessis win would establish a new titleholder that Adesanya would aim to quickly dethrone. Their matchup would lack the stark contrast in personalities that Strickland-Adesanya would bring, but would feature an intriguing clash of styles between elite strikers.

Odds* Favor Strickland on Home Soil

Sean Strickland -175

Dricus Du Plessis +155

*Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

Whichever fighter leaves the Octagon with the belt on Saturday night, the middleweight division appears primed for even bigger things ahead. But first, the heated rivalry between Strickland and Du Plessis will write the latest chapter in the UFC 297 headliner.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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