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May 26, 2024

Tensions Boil Over Ahead of Highly Anticipated UFC 297 Main Event

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Jan 18, 2024

Strickland and Du Plessis Come to Blows Days Before Title Fight

Just days before their highly anticipated UFC middleweight title fight at UFC 297, tensions between champion Sean Strickland and challenger Dricus Du Plessis boiled over during a chance public encounter. According to eyewitness reports, Strickland approached Du Plessis in the lobby of their Toronto hotel and a verbal altercation quickly turned physical.

“It was like something snapped in Strickland when he saw Dricus,” said a hotel guest. “He got right in his face and they started jawing at each other before throwing punches. It took several people to pull them apart.”

Video of the altercation shows the two fighters trading expletives and personal insults before Strickland shoves Du Plessis, prompting the South African fighter to throw a wild punch that glances off Strickland’s shoulder. The two then grappled furiously for several seconds, knocking over furniture and scattering frightened onlookers before they were separated.

Incredibly, neither fighter sustained serious injuries during the melee. But the incident raises further questions about Strickland’s volatile behavior and maturity just days before the biggest fight of his career.

Bad Blood Simmers Between Bitter Rivals

The lobby brawl was the latest chapter in an increasingly bitter rivalry between Strickland and Du Plessis. The trouble started when Strickland aimed offensive comments toward the LGBTQ community during a media event promoting the fight. Du Plessis took issue with Strickland’s remarks and called him out for his intolerance.

“I have no regrets calling out Strickland for his comments,” Du Plessis said. “That dude can talk all the nonsense he wants, he doesn’t decide where the line is drawn.”

Strickland in turn has threatened violent retribution against Du Plessis for inserting himself into the controversy.

“Say some stupid [expletive] about my childhood trauma again and I’ll [expletive] stab you at the weigh-ins,” Strickland allegedly texted Du Plessis following their lobby dust-up.

The threats reportedly prompted UFC President Dana White to ask Du Plessis if he wanted to press charges, but the challenger declined.

“Dana asked if I wanted to press charges,” Du Plessis confirmed. “I said no, but told him Strickland needs help.”

Fiery Weigh-Ins Expected

With Strickland promising further retaliation at Friday’s weigh-ins, security is expected to be tight. But Du Plessis remains undaunted by Strickland’s threats.

“I’ll be ready this time,” he told reporters. “This guy doesn’t scare me one bit. He wants to talk about stabbing me? He’s going to need a gun on Saturday night.”

UFC officials have cautioned both fighters to restrain from further outbursts in the coming days to avoid jeopardizing the main event. But experts warn tensions are unlikely to ease before fight night on Saturday.

“These two guys genuinely dislike each other,” said longtime MMA analyst Michael Bisping. “I expect fireworks at weigh-ins and then absolute chaos when they finally get locked inside the Octagon.”

Main Event Ends in Controversy

Fighter Sean Strickland Dricus Du Plessis
Nickname Tarzan Durinho
Age 32 years 31 years
Height 6’1″ 6’0″
Reach 73.5″ 74″
Record 26-5 18-2
Win by KO/TKO 15 12
Current Streak 6 wins 5 wins

Strickland opened the fight aggressively, attacking Du Plessis with punches and trying unsuccessfully for an early takedown against the cage. Du Plessis patiently counterpunches while defending Strickland’s grappling attempts in the opening minutes.

Late in a close first round, Strickland stuns Du Plessis with an overhand right that drops the challenger to the canvas. Strickland pounces with follow up punches but cannot put Du Plessis away before the bell.

Du Plessis turns the tide in Round 2, battering a tiring Strickland with thudding leg kicks and crisp punching combinations. Badly hurt by the onslaught, Strickland resorts to desperate takedown attempts while eating a barrage of strikes from his opponent.

The fighters continue trading blows in Round 3 with the momentum swaying back and forth. Du Plessis opens and closes the round strong, but Strickland has moments of success in between, bloodying the challenger’s face with elbow strikes from top position.

With the fight hanging in the balance, controversy strikes early in Round 4 when an inadvertent eye poke by Strickland halts the bout. The referee deducts a point from Strickland and gives Du Plessis time to recover, but the challenger remains unable to open his swelling left eye. Despite protests from the Strickland camp, the fight is waved off and declared a TKO victory for Du Plessis due to the accidental foul.

Bitter Rematch Looms Following Controversial Ending

Chaos erupts in the Octagon after the anti-climactic finish to one of the most hotly anticipated title fights in UFC history. Incensed by the fight-altering eye poke, Strickland shoves the referee and hurls insults at the cageside officials before storming out of the arena.

The new UFC middleweight champion Du Plessis is respectful but clearly dissatisfied to have his crowning moment marred by controversy.

“I didn’t want it to end this way,” a dejected Du Plessis tells commentator Joe Rogan. “We need to run this back.”

UFC President Dana White agrees the unclear nature of the finish warrants an immediate rematch. But with bad blood continuing to fester, negotiations for the sequel are expected to be contentious.

“That ending sucked, but I know these guys aren’t finished with each other,” White said. “We’ll make the rematch and give them 25 minutes to settle the score once and for all.”

Given the animosity between Strickland and Du Plessis, MMA pundits predict an even more violent clash the second time around.

“We thought it couldn’t get more personal than this,” Bisping said. “Somehow with this crazy ending, I think the rematch just got even more explosive.”

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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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