July 23rd, 2024

UFC champion Sean Strickland sends warning to UFC 297 opponent Dricus Du Plessis

By The Canadian Press on January 16, 2024.

Middleweight champion Sean (Tarzan) Strickland has sent South African challenger Dricus Du Plessis a warning ahead of their  UFC 297 main event showdown Saturday. Strickland celebrates defeating Nigerian-born New Zealander Israel Adesanya to claim the middleweight title by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 293 in Sydney, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-AAP Images, Dan Himbrechts

TORONTO – Middleweight champion Sean (Tarzan) Strickland has sent South African challenger Dricus Du Plessis a warning ahead of their UFC 297 main-event showdown in Toronto on Saturday.

Strickland, in an conversation on his YouTube channel with fellow fighter Chris Curtis, said he sent Du Plessis a message warning him not to repeat comments made at a UFC news conference last month about the violent abuse the champion said he suffered as a child at the hands of his late father.

“I was like ‘Dude, listen Dricus, we’re going to go try to murder each other (in the cage) but if you bring that (stuff) up again, I will stab you,” he said, throwing in an F-bomb.

“He was cool about it,” Strickland added.

Strickland has talked before about his father’s drinking and violence towards he and his mother.

Du Plessis referenced that when the two got into a verbal exchange at the December news conference, after Strickland made several rude comments about the South African’s relationship with his coach.

“You think your dad beat the (expletive) out of you. Your dad doesn’t have (expletive) on me … Every childhood memory you have is going to come back when I’m in there with you,” Du Plessis said.

“I will take your soul,” replied an irate Strickland, throwing in some profanities for good measure.

Strickland said on his YouTube channel that Du Plessis’ comments crossed the line, warning any repeat of them would lead to non-sanctioned violence.

“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 spend eight weeks of training for no (expletive) reason.”

The two fighters have already come to blows – in the crowd at UFC 296 on Dec. 16 in Las Vegas

The trouble started at T-Mobile Arena when Strickland was shown cageside on the broadcast with du Plessis, sitting two rows behind, reacting with boos and a thumbs down. Strickland then cocked a finger like a gun and mimed shooting the South African, who dodged the imaginary bullet.

Du Plessis kept talking and Strickland, after politely asking the son of UFC fighter Gilbert Burns to vacate the seat between them, jumped over the gap and starting punching du Plessis. Security and others intervened.

UFC president Dana White took blame for the post-UFC 296 altercation, saying he approved the seating chart.

White said he told Strickland to go to the back of the area after the altercation. Instead, the fighter left the arena.

“We’re in the fight business,” White added with a sigh. “And no we don’t like this (extracurricular) stuff and we do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

The January card will be the UFC’s first in Toronto since Dec. 8, 2018, when then-featherweight champion Max (Blessed) Holloway won a bloody, lopsided TKO over No. 1 challenger Brian (T-City) Ortega during UFC 231 at Scotiabank Arena.

Strickland (28-5-0) won the 185-pound title in September when the American upset Israel (The Last Stylebender) Adesanya at UFC 293 in Sydney.

Du Plessis (20-2-0) has won his last eight fights, including all six in the UFC.

Strickland, not known for his filter, did not welcome news of fighting north of the border.

“Well Canada, time to bring you all some freedom,” he said on Instagram. “Didn’t want to fight in January, or in Canada, but was asked to help a couple of ladies do their job. And they call me sexist.”

That was a reference to a fight between American Raquel (Rocky) Pennington and Brazil’s Mayra Bueno Silva for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title that is the co-main event in Toronto.

Strickland also came under fire for sexist and misogynistic comments at a news conference before UFC 293.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.

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