Dricus du Plessis drops the trash talk and sings Sean Strickland’s praises

Dricus du Plessis (left) prepares to punch Sean Strickland (right) at UFC297

In the lead-up to the fight, Dricus du Plessis (left) made it his goal to antagonise Sean Strickland (right) at every opportunity and no topic was been taboo but afterwards the South African sang a different tune. Picture: Canadian Press/Shutterstock

Published Jan 22, 2024


Despite all the trash talk before the fight, Dricus du Plessis sung the praises of his vanquished opponent, Sean Strickland, after their UFC Middleweight title fight in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday.

In the lead-up to the fight, Du Plessis made it his goal to antagonise Strickland at every opportunity and no topic was taboo.

Strickland and Du Plessis went the full five rounds, and the South African was adjudged the winner by a single point to dethrone the champion.

With the title on his waist, Du Plessis changed his tune.

‘Strickland is an absolute warrior’

“Sean Strickland is an absolute warrior and I have the world of respect for him,” said Du Plessis.

Before the fight, Du Plessis referred in a press conference to the abuse Strickland was a victim of during his childhood, which brought up the question - what exactly is the limit to the insults routinely hurled at opponents in the sport?

Strickland, quite justifiably took exception to Du Plessis’ comments.

Summiting the mountain to claim the world title, Du Plessis was flooded with emotion.

“Wow. The emotions I felt when I heard the judges scores being read. It felt like 15 years of work, of dreaming and sacrifices came together in that one single sentence.”

Du Plessis made a slow start to the encounter, with Strickland well ahead on points in the first round. However, Du Plessis worked his way into the contest as he displayed excellent fitness and ultimately was too strong for Strickland.

“The first three rounds were give and take, but the last two rounds… how’s that for rounds four and five. Who said I’m not a five-round fighter?”

The new champion went on to say he would like to defend his title against New Zealand’s Nigeria-born Israel Adesanya. The two fighters have a history of verbal clashes already, and Du Plessis clearly would like to make it physical against the former champion.

“There was another guy who tried to take my shine. He lost his shine, now I have your shine. He didn’t get into the cage tonight, but Israel Adesanya, get your ass back in the cage so we can settle the score.”

In fact, the pair were supposed to meet in September with Du Plessis challenging for the title. Instead, Strickland was given a title shot and claimed a shock victory.