Sean Strickland loses middleweight title in bloody five-round war at UFC 295

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Dricus du Plessis is the new UFC middleweight champion.

The South African slugger outpointed Sean Strickland during a bloody five-round war to pick up a split decision win at UFC 297 in Toronto on Saturday night.

Du Plessis was busted up early


Du Plessis was busted up earlyCredit: Getty

Strickland immediately went to work with his jab in round one and by the end of the first five minutes Du Plessis already had a welt under his right eye.

The 30-year-old did score with a couple of takedowns but he was unable to maintain top position and ended the round by taking a massive punch.  

Du Plessis enjoyed a much better round two as he began to land with his punches, but he continued to eat jabs and his eye started to close over.

Strickland’s pace seemed to slow down in round three, and Du Plessis remained relentless with his wild striking output to seemingly sneak into an early lead after 15 minutes.

An elbow opened up a cut on the champion’s eye in round four, but he responded with several hard right hands and continued to poke at his opponent’s swollen eye.

The gash on Strickland’s face worsened as the clock ticked on, and he became susceptible to punches and takedowns as his vision became impaired by blood.

Strickland’s coach told him he needed to win round five, and he came out swinging, looking to take Du Plessis out – but the top contender managed to survive the onslaught.

One of the judges thought he did enough to win the fight.


Credit: Getty


Credit: Getty

However, the other two overruled him with 48-47 scorecards in favour of Du Plessis, who is the first South African champion in UFC history.

‘Stillknocks’ can now look forward to big-money fights with Israel Adesanya and Khamzat Chimaev – he will also be pushing for MMA’s premier promotion to let him defend in his home country.

Strickland must work his way back into title contention.

It shouldn’t take much after an impressive display in defeat.


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