UFC 297 results: Dricus Du Plessis beats Sean Strickland in brawl, sends message to Israel Adesanya

South Africa has a UFC champion.

Through his efforts in the UFC 297 main event Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Dricus Du Plessis was crowned the promotion’s middleweight champion with a split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) win over Sean Strickland.

After a tough first round, Du Plessis (21-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) found his rhythm with increasing success. Meanwhile, Strickland (28-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) struggled to avoid the unorthodox blows and takedown attempts.

For Strickland, his main points of attack were effective. His jab boxed Du Plessis’ face off – literally. In the opening two rounds, Strickland sliced Du Plessis’ open and caused swelling around the left eye. Du Plessis returned the favor in Round 4, as a combination cut Strickland badly on the left side of his face.

Ultimately, it was Du Plessis’s awkwardness, cardio, and boxing that prove to be the difference maker. The quirky tempo from the South African in the final three rounds appeared to stray Strickland from his calm, composed, technical striking game plan that he displayed in the opening two.

Strickland finished out strong with an effort-filled Round 5. Both men slugged for the fences in the final minute, much to the delight of those in attendance.

After the victory, Du Plessis first thanked Strickland, a man who had previously attacked him at UFC 296 in December, for being a good dance partner and fight-promoter. He then turned his attention to an old rival.

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

With the victory, Du Plessis spoils the first title defense attempt for Strickland, who won the championship against Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in December. Du Plessis is the first South African-born champion in the promotion’s history. En route to the title shot, Du Plessis defeated Markus Perez, Trevin Giles, Brad Tavares, Darren Till, Derek Brunson, and Robert Whittaker.

Strickland has a three-fight winning streak snapped. The defeat is his fourth-career by decision

Up-to-the-minute UFC 297 results include:

  • Dricus Du Plessis def. Sean Strickland via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)

  • Raquel Pennington def. Mayra Bueno Silva via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)

  • Neil Magny def. Mike Malott via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:45

  • Chris Curtis def. Marc-Andre Barriault via split decision (30-27, 28–29, 30-27)

  • Movsar Evloev def. Arnold Allen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Garrett Armfield def. Brad Katona via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Sean Woodson def. Charles Jourdain via split decision (29-28, 28–29, 29-28)

  • Ramon Taveras def. Serhiy Sidey via split decision (29-28, 28–29, 29-28)

  • Gillian Robertson def. Polyana Viana via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:12

  • Sam Patterson def. Yohan Lainesse via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:03

  • Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Priscila Cachoeira via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 3, 4:21

  • Jimmy Flick def. Malcolm Gordon via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 1:17

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie