March 1st, 2024

Sean Strickland disputes UFC 297 split-decision loss, says world knows who won

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 22, 2024.

Two days after losing his middleweight title to Dricus Du Plessis in a split decision, Sean Strickland is disputing the result. Strickland, left, fights Du Plessis during a middleweight title bout at UFC 297 in Toronto, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – Two days after losing his UFC middleweight title to Dricus Du Plessis in a split decision, Sean Strickland is disputing the result.

“I won that fight, the world knows I won that fight “¦ The belt they gave you will never make you a champion. Enjoy,” Strickland wrote on his verified social media accounts.

The former champion did not speak to the media after Saturday’s UFC 297 main event in Toronto. But he applauded briefly after the 49-48, 49-48, 48-49 decision in favour of Du Plessis was read out in the cage.

In a social media post after the fight, he mentioned a head injury but was temperate in his comments.

“Man that head butt really made it difficult to see but I thought we got the job done. Blood and all. Onto the next one,” he wrote.

Since then, he has relayed several posts saying he won the fight. And he added his voice Monday.

“I didn’t take the coward’s way out and tell the doctor I couldn’t see and got a no-contest “¦ The only reason why you took a round from me is because I couldn’t see.”

His post contained a photo of stitches above the eyelid.

“They had to stitch through muscle to get it closed,” Strickland wrote.

According to UFC Stats, Strickland held an edge in significant strikes in the first (34-18), third (31-29), fourth (33-29) and fifth rounds (53-35). Du Plessis had the edge in the second (26-22).

But the challenger scored takedowns in the first (two, with 28 seconds control time), second (one, with 22 seconds) and fourth rounds (three, with 1:18). And delivered the more powerful shots.

Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon awarded the second, third and fourth rounds to Du Plessis. Sal D’Amato gave Strickland the first, third and fifth.

Strickland concluded Monday’s post by thanking fans for their support, saying it “has really kept my head up high through all this. Grateful forever.”

Du Plessis, who came to the post-fight news conference on crutches and in a walking boot, said he did not recall a clash of heads. But judging from his face, which was covered with abrasions, it was not out of the question.

“Do you remember how handsome I was before this fight?” the South African said with a belly laugh. “I look like a cauliflower now. I’m pretty banged up right now.”

UFC president Dana White, while acknowledging it was a close fight, was among those who disagreed with the judges. White said he had the bout even at two rounds apiece going into the fifth. “And I thought Strickland won the last round,” he added.

“Bull” was Du Plessis’ response to White’s take.

“It was a close fight, make no mistake. But I thought I had it,” he said.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2024

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