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Middleweight title up for grabs at UFC 297

Fox News
Defending champion Sean Strickland (Left) faces off with Dricus Du Plessis (Right)

2023 was a massive year for the UFC, with new champions being crowned, huge knockouts, and plenty of drama outside the ring. As the first pay-per-view event of 2024 approaches on Jan. 20, it is important to preview the fight, and give potential viewers an idea of what they are in for at the main event of UFC 297. 

This middleweight title bout and main event of UFC 297 will take place between 2 fighters who burst onto the scene in the past year, defending champion Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis. Both fighters are relatively new to headliner status, as Sean Strickland won the title belt in September of 2022, in a dominant win by decision against the notorious superstar Israel Adesanya. Strickland dominated that match with his striking prowess, landing 137 “significant strikes” over the course of the 5 round fight. Du Plessis is less well known by fans of the UFC, but has been dominant in the middleweight division since entering the league. Du Plessis has beaten big names such as Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker, setting him up perfectly for a shot at the title. 

Promotional Edit for UFC 297 (TheSportsRush)

A deeper examination of the styles of the fighters is telling of how the fight could turn out. Strickland and Du Plessis are both primarily strikers, meaning they prefer to stay on their feet and trade punches and kicks with their opponents. Du Plessis’ biggest advantage is his power, as he averages 1.09 knockdowns per 15 minutes, compared to Strickland’s 0.31 knockdowns per 15 minutes. Strickland’s advantages come through his high striking volume and his overall defense. He has landed 1,714 total significant strikes in his career, which is 7th all time in the UFC. 

As with every major UFC event, there has been an immense amount of trash talk in the months leading up to this fight. Strickland has always been known as a fun, fiery personality in the media, and Du Plessis has made attempts to follow suit, though many could say both fighters have taken things too far in press conferences. A scuffle even broke out between the 2 when they were ringside at a Leon Edwards fight in mid-December. Even with all the pre-fight shenanigans, this title bout feels like a toss-up between 2 immensely talented fighters, making January 20th a massively anticipated night.