In an incredible five-round main event, Dricus du Plessis made history by becoming South Africa’s first-ever UFC champion. The fight took place in Toronto on Saturday night, and after a hard-fought battle, du Plessis emerged victorious with a split decision win over Sean Strickland.
The fight was a testament to the pure spirit of competition, as both fighters put on a clean and intense display of skill. Despite a month of tension leading up to the fight, du Plessis and Strickland buried the hatchet and showed respect for each other in the octagon.
Strickland started strong in the first round, displaying sharp technique and timing. Du Plessis fought back with heavy kicks to the body, but Strickland maintained control.
In the second round, du Plessis increased his output and showcased his range control. He even managed to secure a takedown, although Strickland quickly recovered.
The third round was closely contested, with du Plessis showing more activity and Strickland slowing down. Du Plessis’ cardio held up well, despite previous doubts about his endurance. In the fourth round, du Plessis continued to dominate, mixing up his strikes and securing another takedown.
Both fighters gave it their all in the final round, with Strickland coming back strong, covered in blood, and swinging for the fences. At the end of the fight, both men raised their hands in acknowledgment of a sensational battle.
Du Plessis praised Strickland for his toughness and thanked him for bringing out the best in him. Strickland acknowledged that he had predicted a war from the beginning. While there is a legitimate argument for a rematch due to the close nature of the fight, there is also the possibility of former champion Israel Adesanya returning to reclaim his belt.
In the co-main event, Raquel Pennington claimed the vacant women’s bantamweight title, displaying tremendous heart and defeating Marya Bueno Silva. It was a long-awaited victory for Pennington, who thanked her coaches, loved ones, and expressed her desire for a future fight with Julianna Pena.
Although Arnold Allen fell short in his fight against Movsar Evloev, fellow Brit Sam Patterson secured a first-round submission victory in the prelims, bringing some positive news for British fans.
The UFC now faces the exciting challenge of deciding the next direction for the middleweight division. It will be fascinating to see if they opt for a rematch, or if a new contender like Khamzat Chimaev will rise to the occasion and provide fresh blood to the division.