“I will f**king stab you!”
UFC 297 fight week is here and Toronto, Canada will host the most personal grudge match right now. That’s the main event fight between the reigning UFC middleweight champion of the world – Sean Strickland, who goes up against the great fighting hope of South Africa – Dricus Du Plessis.
In the lead up to this fight many dark things have been said, especially coming from the challenger’s side. In the wake of the UFC 296 PPV, it looked like the atmosphere was simply covered with dark clouds, as Colby Covington had his infamous performance at the presser and just the day after UFC held a press conference which would preview this week’s PPV.
This was the moment where Dricus infamously went deep on Sean’s traumatic childhood and said that he would remind Sean of the hard times he had endured from his father, which completely riled up the champ.
UFC 297: Sean Strickland comes clean on dark trash-talk
Just a day or so ago, Sean Strickland and his training partner Chris Curtis went on their podcast ‘The Man Dance’ and talked about different topics, mostly regarding trash talk and social media. At one point, Curtis brought up the crowd fight of Strickland with Du Plessis (at UFC 296) and the pair discussed it in detail.
Strickland was adamant about some things here, stating that it would be fine to joke about topics such as assault and molestation, but when you add that note of someone going through such experiences – then it crosses the line.
Sean told ‘The Action Man’ that he actually texted Dricus: “Dude… Listen, Dricus. We’re gonna go and try m*rder each other, but if you bring that s*it up again – I will f**king stab you.” With all of that, ‘Tarzan’ said he is ready to go to jail and get deported, if the challenger goes to those lengths again, anytime during the fight week.
The frustrations are understandable, as some UFC athletes seem to completely go off the limits with their words nowadays, going to some shameful “places”. How much it really struck the MW champ’s nerve, was proven on his guest appearance on the famous stand up comedian Theo Von’s podcast.
UFC 297: Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis – What to expect?
There are a few days left for something to pop up, outside of the cage. Hopefully, both athletes stay away from wild antics and keep it professional, so we can see them inside the octagon. Until then, let’s give a brief overview of how this extremely compelling matchup could go, inside the cage.
The fight will most certainly be a stand up affair
The champ obviously prefers what he likes to call ‘the man dance’. Fighting stand up wars and the now-famous gym spars, Strickland is certainly looking to work from that modified Philly Shell stance and pop his opponent with the jab, before picking up the pace and unloading with combos.
The champion lands 6.08 strikes per minute, which is 3rd all-time in the middleweight division’s history. However, his opponent averages 6.95 strikes landed per minute, which is number 1 all-time at 185 pounds. So, the usual advantage when it comes to volume, isn’t on champ’s side this time. Also, one thing that is a clear difference is Dricus’s ability to floor his opponents with strikes, a certain advantage that he has over Strickland.
These two are both complete MMA fighters, but what about conditioning?
When it comes to grappling, it’s important to note that DDP prefers top control and is a very top-heavy, skilled grappler. He has 10 wins coming by way of submission and in his last bout vs Robert Whittaker, he has proved that he can take high-level MMA grapplers down and hold them there. Strickland, on the other hand, is a BJJ black belt, who has interesting numbers to his name.
According to official UFC stats, Sean Strickland has an 84% percent TDD rate, but more importantly – he’s shown to be an almost impossible guy to hold down. With just 49 seconds spent in the bottom position and 0.51% of his total fight time (in his current division) spent there.
Last but not least – conditioning. Cardio/conditioning is very likely the most important tool in a fighter’s game. In MMA, technique is important, as well as athleticism. However, what it comes down to many times (especially on the championship level) is a fighter’s conditioning and ability to go longer on a certain pace than his opponent can.
History tells us that Du Plessis does get tired, but pushes through with his awkward and dangerous style, while ‘Tarzan’ keeps a constant pace and is even ready to up it, once the championship rounds come. At a first glance, it looks like: early rounds for the challenger, later ones for the champ.
With these two getting the two biggest upsets in male ranks last year and the personal stuff heating up – we are eagerly waiting to see that cage door shut and witness them scrap.