Dricus du Plessis gets personal ahead of UFC title fight against Sean Strickland

Dricus Du Plessis celebrates after defeating Robert Whittaker in a middleweight bout during UFC 290 at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Du Plessis won with a second-round TKO

In the lead-up to the UFC middleweight title fight, Dricus du Plessis (pictured) has made it his goal to antagonise Sean Strickland at every opportunity and no topic has been taboo. Picture: Steve Marcus / Getty Images via AFP

Published Jan 18, 2024


If the aim of South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis was to make his opponent Sean Strickland as angry as humanly possible ahead of their clash for the UFC middleweight title in Toronto on Sunday, he has succeeded.

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

That strategy saw Du Plessis refer 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 has taken exception to Du Plessis’ comments.

‘I will stab you’

“Remember when I attacked Dricus?” Strickland said.

“I actually sent him a message and I was like, ‘Dude listen, Dricus, we’re going to go try to murder each other, but if you bring that s*** up again, I will f****** stab you.’ Press conference, weigh-in — I just told Dricus. He was cool about it, he was cool about it. But again, I’m not telling you I don’t want to fight you, Dricus. I’m not saying you’re not a good fighter. I’m just saying that that’s a line that, when crossed, it transcends fighting. Like, if I go to Canada and you bring that up, well guess what? I’m going to go to jail, they’re going to deport me, and we spent eight weeks of training for no f****** reason.”

At first glance, it may seem that Strickland was overreacting, but not when you heard exactly what Du Plessis said first.

“You think your dad beat the s*** out of you? Your dad doesn’t have s*** on me … every childhood memory you have is going to come back when I’m in there with you.”

In fact, Strickland spoke about his childhood trauma and abuse in an interview over the weekend with Theo Von. He went on to explain why he firmly believed Du Plessis’ comments were “off limits”.

Du Plessis, meanwhile, was dismissive about the serious nature of his comments.

“I’ll be ready for whatever he tries with me,” du Plessis said on The MMA Hour. “When I go to these press conferences, I never plan, ‘Oh, I’m going to say this, say that!’ That’s not the way. It’s on the spot. I think it’s going to be a lot more civil, but maybe he comes out guns blazing, who knows? But I think it will be a lot more civil because in my mind, that first press conference was joking around. That was me having a lot of fun.

“I’m not in that zone anymore. I’m in the fight zone now. I’m ready to go. I’m here to win a world title. I’m not here to make jokes. I’m here to be a world champion.”