Darius du Plessis defeats Shawn Strickland at UFC 297 to win undisputed middleweight belt


TORONTO (AP) — The ongoing feud between Shawn Strickland and Darius du Plessis finally reached its climax Saturday night at UFC 297.

The two battled for five rounds, with the fight going the distance, but in the end Du Plessis took Strickland’s middleweight belt and won a split decision after the former champion was left with a bloodied left eye.

Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon scored the fight 48–47 in favor of du Plessis, while Sal D’Amato scored it 48–47 in favor of Strickland.

“This is history!” Du Plessis (21-2) shouted in honor of his motherland. “South Africa… we can probably hear them from outside. That country is amazing.”

That was in December when Du Plessis mentioned Strickland’s abusive relationship with his father. Strickland made it known that this would not be tolerated and would result in violence.

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At UFC 296 in December, Strickland jumped over a row of seats and threw punches at du Plessis – which both said was a publicity stunt out of nowhere.

Nothing about the fight was close to a stunt, as both men traded blows, with both landing serious blows, especially in the latter rounds.

Despite the tension leading up to fight night, Du Plessis gave Strickland (28-6) his due.

“Every time he hits you it feels like someone has hit you with a stone. “You are a human being, thank you for bringing out the best in me tonight,” Du Plessis said. “The first three rounds were give and take, but the last two rounds I was frustrated in the fourth and fifth rounds.”

To which Strickland later replied: “I said it from day one – it was going to be a war.”

But fanduelThe fight set off a pick’em, with both priced at -108, meaning a bettor would have to bet $108 to win $100.

Raquel Pennington (16-9-0) defeated Mayra Bueno Silva (10-3-1) by unanimous decision to claim the vacant women’s bantamweight championship in the co-main event. Pennington was listed as the underdog in the match.

Neil Magny (29-12-0) stopped Mike Malott (10-2-1) at the 4:45 mark of the third round of their welterweight match.

Chris Curtis (31-10-0) took a split decision over Marc-Andre Barriault (16-7-0) in their middleweight bout. Curtis took two scores of 30–27, with Curtis winning 29–28 on the third scorecard, while Barriault won 29–28.

In the first match on the undercard, Movser Evloev remained undefeated (17-0-0) with a unanimous decision over Arnold Allen (19-3-0). All three judges gave it a score of 29-28. Avtaev, who owns the second-longest active winning streak in the UFC featherweight division (7), extended his total UFC win streak to eight consecutive.

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