February 29th, 2024

Champion Sean Strickland, challenger Dricus Du Plessis make weight ahead of UFC 297

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 19, 2024.

Sean Strickland weighs in ahead of his UFC Middleweight title bout in Toronto, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

TORONTO – UFC middleweight champion Sean (Tarzan) Strickland and South African challenger Dricus (Stillknocks) Du Plessis both made weight Friday in advance of their UFC 297 showdown Saturday.

Fighters had a window from 9 to 11 a.m. ET to make weight in a meeting room at their downtown hotel. The ceremonial weigh-in, in front of fans at Scotiabank Arena, was scheduled for later in the day.

The earlier weigh-in allows the fighters more time to rehydrate – and eat.

Almost all will be substantially bigger when they enter the cage Saturday night. Canadian bantamweight Serhiy Sidey, for example, says he normally tries not to exceed 158 pounds outside of fights. He weighed in at 135 Friday.

The Las Vegas-based Strickland (28-5-0) was the first to step on the scales at 9:01 a.m., weighing in at 184.75 pounds – one quarter-pound below the middleweight title limit.

The chiselled Du Plessis (20-2-0) arrived four minutes and six fighters later, tipping the scales at 184 before showing off his six-pack with a smile.

For those wondering, Du Plessis underwent doping tests 10 times in 2023 while Strickland had eight, according to the UFC. Du Plessis was given a personalized jacket Wednesday to mark his 50th career clean drug test with the promotion.

Ironically, the South African’s nickname comes from Stilnox, a drug that used “to initiate and maintain sleep.”

Nineteen of Du Plessis’ 20 wins have been by finish – nine by KO/TKO and 10 by submission. The native of Pretoria is ranked second among middleweight contenders behind Israel (The Last Stylebender) Adesanya, whom Strickland dethroned at UFC 293 in September.

A steady stream followed to the scales with 17 of the 24 fighters having made weight by 9:13 a.m. and 20 by 9:22 a.m. before the media and members of their entourage.

Two fighters missed weight.

Canadian flyweight Malcom (X) Gordon, the penultimate fighter to step on the scales, weighed in at 127.5 pounds, 1.5 above the non-flyweight title.

American Ramon (The Savage) Taveras, Sidey’s opponent, was the last to weigh in at 10:53 pm. He looked forlorn as his weight was announced at 139.75 pounds, 3.75 above the non-title bantamweight limit.

Gordon will forfeit 20 per cent of his purse to American opponent Jimmy (The Brick) Flick while Taveras will have to give Sidey 30 per cent of his.

Saturday’s card, the first for the UFC in Toronto since UFC 231 in December 2018, is a sellout of 18,100, according to Dana White. The UFC president says the expected gate of US$7.6 million is second only in Canada to the US$12.1 generated by UFC 129, which drew 55,724 to the Rogers Centre in April 2011.

Saturday marks the UFC’s first show in Canada since UFC 289 in June in Vancouver – and the promotion’s 33rd north of the border across 11 cities starting April 2008 with UFC 83 in Montreal.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2024.

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