Dana White came out swinging to start the week off and announced three PPV headliners to start 2024. Kicking things off is UFC 297 in Toronto on January 20th. That card will be headlined by newly crowned middleweight champion Sean Strickland (28-5) and he’ll be defending against Dricus Du Plessis (20-2).
DDP is getting the title shot that he earned back in July when he fought former champion Robert Whittaker. Du Plessis was told that the winner of his fight against Whittaker would get the next shot at Israel Adesanya who was the champion at the time.
To the surprise of most, DDP finished Whittaker in the second round seemingly securing the shot against Adesanya. However, Adesanya wanted to fight in September and that was a really quick turnaround for DDP who was dealing with nagging injuries. Du Plessis had won six straight to earn the shot, but the UFC didn’t want to wait and moved forward with another challenger.
The man who stepped up to face Adesanya was Sean Strickland. Strickland was coming off a second round TKO of Abus Magomedov in July and he was willing to jump in to face the champion in Australia. Most didn’t give Strickland much of a chance to dethrone Adesanya, but Strickland and his camp had faith he could get it done.
At UFC 293, Strickland went into Australia and didn’t just beat Israel Adesanya, he dominated him. After dropping him in the first round, Strickland put on a beautiful performance and never allowed Adesanya back into the fight. It was a lopsided win and one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
Now, he’ll defend his title for the first time north of the border. This should be an excellent fight and a worthy one for Strickland’s first title defense.