This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 297, the middleweight title was on the line. Sean Strickland (28-6) was looking to defend his title against South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis (21-2) who was looking to become the first champion to come from South Africa.
On paper, this fight looked like it was going to be very close. Sometimes when you see fights like this, it completely plays out in one way that shocks everyone. However, this was one of those fights where it was as close as the previews thought it would be.
In the first round, Strickland really pulled out ahead with his crisp boxing and sharp jab that was peppering Du Plessis. In the second round, Du Plessis really came back strong with pressure and big combinations. The third round was razor close and I personally scored it for Strickland. Du Plessis came back again with a big fourth round and it all came down to the fifth.
Both men left it all out there but I, along with the three judges, gave the final round to Strickland. It was as close as you could get with the media all split on who they thought won. I had Strickland winning it as did one judge. However, the two judges that mattered scored it for Du Plessis and he is now the UFC middleweight champion.
What’s next after UFC 297?
Usually when you have title fights that end this way, the first thought is rematch. Sean Strickland has become a massive star for the promotion and there’s going to be a loud fanbase who wants him to get another shot at Du Plessis. However, early indications are that’s not going to be the UFC’s plan.
Israel Adesanya (24-3) is ready to step back into the octagon and there’s some serious beef between him and Du Plessis. After Du Plessis defeated Robert Whittaker, the two men had a heated exchange inside the octagon.
Adesanya reacted to Du Plessis’ callout after his win on Saturday night and he simply said, “I’m still going to test that ass.” DDP called out Adesanya in his post-fight interview following his win on Saturday night.
UFC 300 still needs a main event and Adesanya is one of the biggest stars in the sport. His return in a heated fight with Du Plessis could easily top that card. However, it’ll all come down to the health of Du Plessis. If he can’t make that fight happen, I would expect that fight to shift to May or July with the Conor McGregor – Michael Chandler fight tentatively scheduled for International Fight Week in June. Now, if that fight doesn’t happen, I would expect Adesanya and DDP to headline International Fight Week.