Dricus Du Plessis never doubted that Bruce Buffer would announce his name following his five-round middleweight clash with Sean Strickland at UFC 297.
After earning six straight victories inside the Octagon, DDP scored his first shot at UFC gold when he stepped inside the Octagon at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Going toe-to-toe in an entertaining war, Du Plessis was revealed as the winner in a razor-close split decision, crowning him the new 185-pound king.
Following the victory, DDP appeared on the Anik & Florian Podcast to talk about his impressive title win and what may come next for the South African standout.
Breaking down the fight, Du Plessis revealed that giving up the first round was all part of his game plan, adding that his goal, at least in the early going, was to hand Strickland a taste of his own medicine.
“The fight felt pretty close,” Du Plessis said. “I knew I lost round one when I went to the corner because that was our game plan which was to fight Sean Strickland’s fight in the first two rounds. But fighting the exact fight that he would fight. So going forward and landing one punch, one punch, one punch. And that would surprise him a little because he’d think I would come out with the big bombs early.
“My coach would also shout to me when the round was about to end so that we would get that takedown at the end of every round to either level the playing field or make sure we tip the round in our favor. That was our plan. Not to get him down and hold him down. It was to get the takedown, secure a position, and get back up.”
DDP’s strategy certainly aligns with the stats as he scored six takedowns during the 25-minute affair, but only managed two minutes of control time.
“[Rounds] three and four, I definitely won those rounds,” he continued. “I felt incredibly good. Especially in round four. It’s funny that it happened that way, but during round three, I could see Sean Strickland’s face and see him [breathing heavily]. I saw him backpedaling and getting tired and I thought that was great for me. So from round three, we started fighting my fight. Putting the combos together. Trying to land the big shots, but it was a tough fight.”
Dricus Du Plessis Leaves the Door Open for Return at UFC 300
Immediately following Du Plessis’ victory, fight fans online were quick to debate the result, suggesting that Strickland had done more than enough to retain his title. UFC CEO Dana White concurred during his appearance at the post-fight press event.
“In my mind, I won the fight. In that fifth round, I feel like Sean Strickland gave it his all, but only at the end of the round. I controlled the fifth round up until the very end,” DDP said. “He started throwing those haymakers and his corner shouted, “30 seconds” and he went for it. That was his Hail Mary. He’s losing this fight and in my mind, I honestly thought I had won the fight.”
Strickland won the fifth round on all three of the judges’ scorecards. Only judge Sal D’Amato scored the fight in favor of Strickland, awarding him rounds one, three, and five.
— Delinquent MMA (@DelinquentMMA) January 21, 2024
With the promotion’s massive landmark event, UFC 300, less than three months away, fans are already beginning to ask if he could see Du Plessis put his title on the line on April 13. After detailing some of his lingering injuries, fortunately, nothing overly serious, DDP left the door wide open for a potential return this spring.
“That would be amazing,” Du Plessis said. “I would love to be on UFC 300. It’s gonna be a story.”
Watch the full interview below: