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Henry Cejudo picks Dricus Du Plessis to beat Sean Strickland at UFC 297: ‘His head is in the right place’

Henry Cejudo worries that middleweight champion Sean Strickland’s emotions could cost him at UFC 297.

Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) makes his first title defense against Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 4-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 297 main event at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Du Plessis brought up Strickland’s traumatic childhood during the UFC 2024 season press conference, which led to Strickland jumping him while both men were in attendance for UFC 296 at T-Mobile Arena. Strickland, who was brought to tears when reliving his childhood in a recent interview with Theo Von, also threatened to “stab” Du Plessis if he brought up his past again.

Cejudo questions if Strickland will be able to control his emotions during the fight.

“The biggest thing to me is where is (Strickland) at mentally?” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “When you put so much stress on yourself, when you let the media in, you let analysts, guys like myself, and we’re allowed to kind of express our feelings of the situation, that stuff will get to you.

“Either that or you probably shouldn’t bring that stuff up, but it’s too late now. They talk to the world, talking about about stabbing Dricus Du Plessis. If you go out there on Saturday and fight emotionally, Sean, you’re going to be in trouble. This is my biggest question right here. Can Sean Strickland fight? One hundred percent, but will he fight right? Or will he listen to his emotions?”

Cejudo initially picked Strickland to win but immediately backtracked and switched to Du Plessis. He was especially impressed with the South African fighter’s finish of former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290.

“I love the fight, but if I had to pick somebody to be able to win, I want to go with the American, I really do,” Cejudo said. “I really do, but if this guy (Du Plessis) has trouble taking down Sean Strickland, and Sean Strickland has gone five rounds. It’s hard. I remember I doubted this dude against Robert Whittaker, but if I literally had to pick somebody, I got to go with (Strickland).

“I’m at the halfway point where I think I want go for this dude (Du Plessis) because of the emotions going on with Sean Strickland. I take that back. I’m going to have to go with the king of Africa. I just have to. It seems like his head is in the right place. He has good top control, good ground-and-pound. As much as I want to go for Sean Strickland. I cannot doubt the dude that beat Robert Whittaker.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie