Dana White has announced that a middleweight title fight between Sean Strickland and Dricus du Plessis will headline UFC 297 on January 20th in Toronto, Canada.
It had been recently reported by Ariel Helwani that a lightweight title rematch between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira would front the UFC’s first PPV event of the year, but it turns out that’s not the case.
The title announcement also shoots down talk that Khamzat Chimaev would be next in line for a shot at the middleweight title after his majority decision win over Kamaru Usman recently at UFC 294.
Instead, it’s du Plessis who gets the nod, and perhaps that’s only right given that he was in line to fight for the title against Israel Adesanya at UFC 294 before withdrawing from the bout due to an injury, which paved the way for Strickland to land the fight instead and deliver one of the biggest upset wins in the history of the sport.
The 29-year-old du Plessis enters into the fight having compiled six wins in a row so far in the UFC, culminating with wins over the likes of Darren Till, Derek Brunson and most recently former champ Robert Whittaker along the way.
As for the 32-year-old Strickland, his decision victory over Adesanya capped off a 2023 campaign that also saw him earn wins over Nassourdine Imavov and Abus Magomedov.
Strickland vs. du Plessis headlines a UFC 297 card that will also feature a fight for the vacant women’s bantamweight title between Mayra Bueno Silva and Raquel Pennington.