In a gripping encounter at UFC 297, held at the Scotiabank Arena, Dricus du Plessis emerged as the new UFC middleweight champion. This historic win on January 21, 2024, marks du Plessis as the first South African to secure a world championship title in UFC's history.
Du Plessis, showcasing remarkable skill and strategy, secured a split-decision triumph over Sean Strickland. The victory was particularly impressive given Strickland's previous success in September, where he notably defeated Israel Adesanya. The main event at UFC 297 highlighted the UFC's status as a premier sporting spectacle, delivering an electrifying experience for fans.
Throughout the bout, 30-year-old du Plessis demonstrated exceptional prowess. He consistently forced Strickland onto the defensive, despite Strickland's efforts with solid jabs. Du Plessis' strategy involved a blend of powerful takedowns and striking diversity. He effectively used thudding kicks to Strickland's body and several left high kicks, which kept his opponent on edge.
The fight's intensity peaked in the final round, with Strickland, bleeding from a cut above his left eye, unleashing a barrage of heavy punches. However, du Plessis' resilience saw him through, and the match concluded with the judges awarding him a split decision victory.
An emotional du Plessis, overwhelmed by his win, knelt in tears, expressing gratitude to his coaches. In a post-fight interview, he acknowledged the match's closeness, especially praising his takedown strategy. He then proceeded to challenge former champion Adesanya, setting the stage for future high-stakes confrontations in the UFC.
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