Dricus Du Plessis Highlights What Is Being Overlooked Ahead Of UFC 297 Title Shot Against Sean Strickland: 'People Forget…'
While it briefly looked as though he might get passed up, surging middleweight contender Dricus Du Plessis has his first shot at championship glory on mixed martial arts’ biggest stage pencilled in.
Du Plessis, who currently occupies the #2 spot at 185 pounds, will head to Canada days into 2024 ahead of a title tilt with Sean Strickland at the Toronto-held UFC 297 event.
“Stillknocks” secured the opportunity with an upset knockout win over former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 this past July. The result extended Du Plessis’ perfect promotional record to 6-0, a slate that also includes finishes of Darren Till and Derek Brunson.
Despite his strong form since breaking through into the rankings, many continue to point to Du Plessis’ cardio as a potential weakness. That sentiment has risen once again, as the South African gears up for his first five-round fight under the UFC banner.
But like he has ever since announcing his arrival in the sport’s premier promotion, Du Plessis expects to surprise a few when he takes to the cage on January 20.
Du Plessis Expects To ‘Shock’ With His Cardio At UFC 297
During a recent interview with James Lynch for MyMMANews, Du Plessis looked ahead to his first shot at title glory in the UFC, which some suggested was in doubt after an injury left him choosing against challenging Israel Adesanya in Sydney this past September.
In the South African’s place, Strickland delivered an incredible five-round showing to dominantly dethrone “The Last Stylebender.” The new champ’s strong cardio and history of fighting for 25 minutes has been pointed to by some as a sizable advantage in the lead-up to UFC 297.
But having been scheduled for numerous five-round affairs under banners such as KSW and continued to prepare as such ever since, Du Plessis has dismissed any suggestion that he won’t be up to the task.
“I honestly think the first round will play a big role in how this fight ends,” Du Plessis said. “I know it’s a five-round fight, it’s different. Sean has had a lot of time in five-round fights, but people forget that for five, six years, I was a champion in every promotion I fought. I only fought five-rounders for five, six years of my career. That’s the only thing we prepared for.
“Ever since then, I’ve never stopped preparing for five rounds. I didn’t start preparing for three rounds,” Du Plessis continued. “I know five rounds, it takes longer. But against Whittaker, it was such a high-paced fight. In that second round, I wasn’t even at 50 percent in terms of my cardio. I felt amazing… Everybody could see it. We had to make some adjustments, brought some new people in terms of strength and conditioning, and made it more scientific…. That’s one thing that I think is gonna shock a lot of people (at UFC 297).”
Having already dealt a major blow to his detractors by becoming the only man other than Adesanya to defeat Whittaker at middleweight, Du Plessis will hope to prove himself right once more when he shares the cage with Strickland.
IT'S GOING DOWN IN THE NORTH.🦉🏆@SStricklandMMA vs @DricusDuPlessis is your #UFC297 main event! [ Register your interest at https://t.co/newcSNDZrs ] pic.twitter.com/hhggwKR8TZ
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) November 9, 2023
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