Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 297, the middleweight title is on the line. Middleweight champion and budding superstar Sean Strickland (28-5) will look to defend his middleweight title for the first time when he takes on South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis (20-2).
Last July, Du Plessis stopped Robert Whittaker in the second round to earn a shot at then middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. It was DDP’s sixth straight win since making his debut inside the octagon. The UFC was set on Adesanya headlining the Australian PPV in September and wanted him to fight Du Plessis.
However, Du Plessis was a little banged up and wanted to be 100% for his title shot. With the promotion and Adesanya set on fighting in September, they turned to the next logical contender, Sean Strickland. Strickland had won two fights earlier in 2023 to get into the title picture. Strickland jumped at the opportunity.
While few gave him a chance, Strickland put on the performance of a lifetime and dominated Israel Adesanya in a standup fight over the course of five rounds to become UFC champion. Now, he’ll be looking to defend his title against the division’s top contender, Dricus Du Plessis.
UFC 297 Prediction
Both of these fighters loving coming forward and both do their best work when they are the ones pushing the pace. Du Plessis is a little more wild with the way that he attacks with forward pressure. The UFC champion is much more measured in his approach and he’s more clean with his technique.
Early on, I would expect Du Plessis to be the one going forward. I think they’ll be more urgency on his front to control the pace early on. There have been questions surrounding DDP’s cardio, and I think those will come into play tomorrow. Du Plessis will get the better of the first couple of rounds.
However, while he’s said that they’ve improved his cardio, I’m not completely convinced. While I see him losing the first couple of rounds, starting in round three, I think you’ll really see Strickland come on strong. I think you’ll see a tired DDP really start to fade and in the fourth round, everything will change.
Big combinations against the fence will force a wild shot which will be defended. Follow up shots will land after that and I think that Sean Strickland will retain his UFC middleweight title tomorrow night and he’ll win by stoppage.
Prediction: Sean Strickland by TKO – Round 4