In a memorable clash that will be etched into the annals of UFC history, Dricus du Plessis emerged victorious over Sean Strickland, securing the UFC middleweight championship through a hard-fought split decision (47-48 x2, 48-47). The South African etched his name in the record books as the first-ever UFC champion hailing from the Rainbow Nation.
Du Plessis stood in the center of the Octagon, draped in the South African flag, and claimed the coveted title whilst also challenging his skeptics who doubted his stamina in the championship rounds. With a defiant message, he called out those who questioned his ability to endure, stating ..
“How’s that for rounds 4 and 5? Who says this guy’s not a five-round fighter?”
Acknowledging his opponent, du Plessis displayed sportsmanship and respect, praising Strickland for the battle they waged.
“You are one hell of a man. Thank you for bringing the best out of me. Thank you for being a good guy,” he remarked.
While a rematch with Strickland remains a possibility, du Plessis threw down the gauntlet to bitter rival Israel Adesanya, the former middleweight champion who is currently on hiatus.
“Israel Adesanya, get your ass back in the UFC so we can settle the score,” du Plessis declared, setting the stage for a potential blockbuster showdown.
Strickland, despite believing he had won the fight, lauded du Plessis for delivering an intense contest.
“I called it from day one, that it was going to be a fucking. I was a fucking war. I’m salty, I think I won that, but maybe I’m being a fucking pussy,” Strickland stated post-fight.
Strickland showcased his prowess in the first round, landing numerous jabs which seemed to have the intended effect, but du Plessis responded with impactful takedowns, leaving the judges with a very difficult decision.
Round by round, du Plessis was able to weather the storm, showcasing resilience, and executing well-timed takedowns. Dominick Cruz noted in commentary ..
“Nobody has really taken down and controlled Strickland like this.”
In the final round, both warriors engaged in a fierce exchange of powerful blows, delivering a spectacle that left spectators on the edge of their seats. The battle reached its crescendo with wild swings in the dying minutes, adding another layer of intensity to an already exhilarating contest.
Dricus du Plessis now stands atop the middleweight division, a champion of an unforgettable showdown, despite it being controversial with a single point between them.
Highlights available below from TNT Sports.
It should be noted however, that the single point difference between the two fighters came as a split decision by the third judge. Whilst two judges called it a tie, the third judge differed in opinion only in the third round where that solitary point was awarded to Du Plessis. Was the headbutt the reason that single point went the other way in the third round? We may never know, but with a door open for a rematch, there is only one way to find out once and for all.
Score cards below;