Dricus du Plessis Recalls Cage-side Scuffle With Sean Strickland At UFC 296

Dricus du Plessis has given his account of what happened during his cage-side scuffle with Sean Strickland at UFC 296, which came barely a month away from their actual main event middleweight title fight at UFC 297 in January.

“We walk in, and I look at my ticket,” Du Plessis recalled on ‘The Coach and The Casual’ show. “This is my first time sitting cageside. I live in South Africa, I don’t come to all the events. ‘This is your row, row C, Seat number 4 or 5,’ whatever. And I go, ‘Okay.’ And I see that’s Sean Strickland over there. I’m assuming they’re gonna [put me on the other side]. And the guy goes, ‘No. You’re on that side.’ I immediately realized, like, he’s in row A, then it’s B, and C, meaning we are sitting two rows apart. We even had the same seat number. So he’s literally sitting right in front of me.

“They tell me the cameras are gonna be on you guys now, and I obviously know this is his domain. They’re definitely booing me. And I just went, ‘Cool.’ I’m just gonna join them with the boos and boo him. I’m like, cool, I’m with you guys, I’m booing him too. And as I did it, I could see him on the screen, I just saw that he was so irritated.

“Then he turned around, and he did the whole gun thing. He was just so frustrated, and I said, ‘Listen, even with that gun you’re missing.’ And he kinda looked around, and I said, ‘Yeah, look in front of you before I beat your ass.’

“We were looking at each other, he said something, I said something,” Du Plessis continued. “And it was almost like, okay, that’s the end of the storm. And I turned, still looking at him, and he turned … and then he just jumped. I thought it was over, and he just jumped. Here we go.

“It was crazy because we were in between a lot of fighters. It was so crazy, the vibe after the whole thing happened. Usually, if you’re in a social setting like that and something like that happens, some people are crying. But you just see all the fighters like ‘Yeah! Yeah!’”

Given that Strickland essentially jumped du Plessis there was some talk that he might seek to sue his rival, but the title challenger insists there’s no chance that will happen.

“I mean, when people sue each other in South Africa, that’s for, like, real stuff, not little stuff. If he hit me with a chair from behind or whatever, that is causes for some concern. But it was a good old-fashioned scrap. It was mutual combat. Yeah.”

And du Plessis main takeway from the whole incident is that it’s a lot easier to get under Strickland’s skin than he had imagined.

“Obviously, you know, this is a big mental game,” Du Plessis said. “This whole fight thing is a mental game for me. [Pressers are] all fun and games. But at the end of the day, that’s part of it. That’s part of the fight, what happens in that press conference. That’s a fight before the fight just like the weigh-in is. There’s nothing you could possibly say to throw me off. And I said, ‘Cool. I’m gonna start chipping away and see where when I get this.’

“He looks like a guy that he’s not gonna be easy to freak because he dishes it out. The first thing I said [did it], and that was only the beginning. He’s so glad it was the end, I had so much more to go. Oh my God, I was so ready, and that was the first thing I said to this guy! I thought, ‘Oh, he’s acting,’ and then I saw like, ‘I really got him.’ Okay. I did all this homework, and I did all this preparation for this, and now the first thing I say [got him].”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.