Dricus du Plessis is the UFC’s new middleweight champion after battling his way to a split-decision win over Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 297.
The middleweight main event is underway in Toronto, Canada!
Strickland feels out with the jab and Du Plessis looks for a leg kick that doesn’t land. Head kick attempt from Du Plessis just blocked in time. Jab lands for Strickland.
Push kick for Strickland. Now an inside leg kick. Back to the jab. Du Plessis keeping his guard tight as these jabs pepper the target.
Du Plessis not yet dialing in his range and has had a couple of leg kicks checked by Strickland.
Solid body kick for Du Plessis. Now a head kick that glanced the target. Jab lands for Du Plessis. One-two for Strickland.
Push kick from Strickland and a body kick for Du Plessis. Punch for Du Plessis. leg kick from him is checked again.
Another head kick attempt from Du Plessis and they are not far away. Du Plessis in on a takedown attempt and lands it against the cage. Strickland working back to his feet though. Du Plessis drags him back down, but Strickland gets right back up.
Final minute of the round. Body kick for Du Plessis. Misses on a couple of punches afterwards. Strickland back to the jab. Overhand misses from Du Plessis. Solid jab for Strickland. Low kick for Du Plessis. Now a head kick that seemed to at least partially get through again.
Right hand for Du Plessis. Now a solid right hand lands from Strickland right at the end of the round.
Calf kick lands for Du Plessis but checked. He lands it again and then tries to land punches upstairs.
Spinning backfist lands for Du Plessis, but Strickland is unfazed. Push kick for Strickland. Left hook for the champ and Du Plessis looked a bit uncomfortable for a moment afterwards.
Jab still working for Strickland. Another spinning backfist attempt from Du Plessis misses. Strickland’s jab lands and then an inside leg kick. He checks a leg kick from Du Plessis.
Winging punches from Du Plessis miss. He does land a calf kick. Glancing right hand for Du Plessis and Strickland’s jab lands.
Strickland checks a kick again. Du Plessis lands a body punch. jabs from Strickland. Overhand right from Du Plessis and then lands a body kick.
Another glancing overhand and a left hand lands cleaner behind it. Jab for Strickland, but Du Plessis goes in on a takedown and gets Strickland to his knees against the cage.
Strickland trying to stand and manages to do so. He’s bleeding from a cut to his left eye though. Du Plessis’ leg kick is checked.
Jabs for Strickland and Du Plessis throws back. Du Plessis has some significant swelling around his left eye now too.
Strickland’s jab is still crisp. Head kick from Du Plessis gets through but not enough to really hurt the champ.
Overhand left lands for Du Plessis. Jabs and a push kick from Strickland. More jabs from him. Grazing left hook for Du Plessis. He lands a leg kick. Jab and then back to the calf kick.
Jabs and a left hand from Strickland. Strickland checks another leg kick. Solid body kick for Du Plessis. Jab for Strickland.
leg kick for Du Plessis. Jab for Strickland. Spinning backfist from Du Plessis misses. Body punch for Du Plessis. Jabs for Strickland. Jab for Du Plessis. Overhand left from Du Plessis. He misses trying to land it again.
Low kick for Du Plessis. Du Plessis winging a few strikes that aren’t landing. Double-jab for Strickland. Du Plessis with a brief flurry of punches.
Missed head kick from Du Plessis. Strickland content to work behind the jab. Body kick from Du Plessis. Jabs from Strickland. Grazing left hand from Du Plessis. Strickland lands a left hook right at the end of the round.
Straight punches from Strickland. He pumps ou the jab. More get through. Du Plessis blitzes forward but doesn’t land clean. Right hand for Du Plessis. Now an elbow. Redness around Strickland’s left eye now.
Heavy right hand for Strickland and a body kick from Du Plessis. Right hand again for Strickland. Strickland with blood streaking down his face from his left eye now.
leg kick for Du Plessis. Straight punches from Strickland and Du Plessis with power punches that don’t quite find the mark.
Du Plessis with a solid takedown. Strickland quickly back up, but Du Plessis clinches to his back. Strickland breaks away.
Nice right hand for Du Plessis. He lands another. Three-piece combo for Du Plessis. Now a head kick, but Strickland eats it.
Du Plessis takes the champ down. Strickland quickly back up. Du Plessis clinched to his back again though. Du Plessis drags him down. Strickland back up.
Right hand lands for Du Plessis. Uppercut for the challenger in close. Now a leg kick. Hug overhand from Du Plessis misses.
Solid one-two from Strickland snaps Du Plessis’ head back. Front kick to the body for the champ.
Strickland lands the jab. Missed spinning back-fist from Du Plessis. Strickland landing the jab through the guard.
Strickland continuing to work the jab and bringing the straight into play too. Jab for Du Plessis. Punch for Strickland and a left hook counter grazing the target from Du Plessis.
Right hand for Strickland. Du Plessis with a 1-2. Low kick for Du Plessis. He tries a head kick too. Grazing right hand from Strickland.
Right hook for Strickland lands. Head kick again from Du Plessis is blocked. Du Plessis tries for a taekdown, but Strickland stuffs it this time.
Jab for Strickland. Jabs and a right hand for the champ. Overhands from Du Plessis miss. He’s not finding the target as much at the moment with his big strikes.
Solid jabs from Strickland. Du Plessis with a takedown attempt that doesn’t pay off. Glancing right hook from Du Plessis. jab for Strickland. Jab, a leg kick and a body kick for Du Plessis.
One-two from Strickland. Right hand for Du Plessis. He lands a jab. Strickland with a couple of left-right combos. Right hanad for Du Plessis. Strickland swinging punches and a knee lands to the midsection.
Strickland misses a head kick. He’s pouring on the pressure now swinging a bit more wildly and lands a final push kick.
A close fight then throughout, with both men suffering damage along the way. However, Du Plessis showed better than expected cardio over five rounds and managed to work some takedowns along with his strikes too at times, which helps him to earn a split-decision victory (48-47 x2, 47-48) and become the new middleweight champion.