Dricus Du Plessis Clinches Middleweight Title in Thrilling UFC 297 Showdown

Dricus Du Plessis Clinches Middleweight Title in Thrilling UFC 297 Showdown

In a captivating showdown at UFC 297, Dricus Du Plessis emerged victorious, claiming the middleweight title from the controversial Sean Strickland. The South African fighter secured the win through a split decision after an intense five-round battle that kept fans on the edge of their seats.

Strickland, who had stunned the UFC world with a monumental upset against Israel Adesanya in September, faced a tough challenge in his first title defense. Du Plessis, known for his surprise TKO victory over former champion Robert Whittaker, showcased resilience and strategic prowess to secure the coveted middleweight belt.

The judges’ scorecards reflected the closely contested nature of the match, reading 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 in favor of Du Plessis. The outcome hung in the balance throughout the fight, with both fighters displaying tenacity and skill.

Expectations for a fierce, chaotic brawl between the 32-year-old Strickland and the 30-year-old Du Plessis were initially slow to materialize. Strickland utilized his jab and front kick effectively, while Du Plessis employed stance-switching and sporadic takedowns, though struggling to maintain control.

Despite facing a nearly swollen-shut left eye after two rounds, Du Plessis persevered, delivering lunging overhands that cut Strickland around the champion’s left eye. The close nature of the second and third rounds set the stage for a pivotal final round, where Strickland’s precise striking seemed to give him an edge.

However, Du Plessis’s patience and resilience paid off as he was declared the victor in Toronto. In a post-fight interview, he called out Adesanya, emphasizing the unfinished business between them.

Du Plessis declared, “There’s a man who tried to take my shine, he lost his shine, now I’ve got his shine. You didn’t get in the cage tonight, but Israel Adesanya, get your ass back in the UFC so we can settle the score.”

In the co-main event, Raquel Pennington secured victory against Mayra Bueno Silva via unanimous decision, claiming the vacant women’s bantamweight title. This follows MMA icon Amanda Nunes’ retirement in 2023, leading to the belt becoming available.

The full UFC 297 card delivered thrilling moments, including Neil Magny’s third-round TKO victory over Mike Malott, Chris Curtis’s split decision win against Marc-Andre Barriault, and Movsar Evloev’s unanimous decision triumph over Arnold Allen.

The preliminary and early prelim bouts showcased equally compelling performances, with notable victories for Garrett Armfield, Sean Woodson, Ramon Taveras, Gillian Robertson, Sam Patterson, Jasmine Jasudavicius, and Jimmy Flick.

As the MMA world reflects on the outcomes of UFC 297, Dricus Du Plessis stands atop the middleweight division, ready to face future challenges and potential rematches. The event showcased the unpredictable nature of the sport, keeping fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this dynamic journey.