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World Champion: Dricus du Plessis beats Strickland to take UFC middleweight title

FOURTY one years after the small town of Boksburg in Gauteng, South Africa produced a world champion, it has done it again.

Du Plessis outpointed Sean Strickland to claim a split-decision win and the UFC middleweight title at UFC 297 at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday, becoming South Africa’s first world champion in the promotion.

Du Plessis’ historic feat came 41 years after Gerrie Coetzee – known as the “Boksburg Bomber” – defeated American Michael Dokes to become the first South African to win the world heavyweight boxing championship. 

Despite some stiff jabs from Strickland, who won the belt in September with a huge upset of Israel Adesanya, Du Plessis had the better of the opening exchanges.


The 30-year-old continued to push the American back in the subsequent rounds but while he enjoyed plenty of success with takedowns he could not keep Strickland on the mat for any length of time.

Du Plesis continued to mix up his striking, aiming thudding kicks to the body and landing several left high kicks to keep Strickland guessing.

With a stream of blood running from a cut on his left eye, Strickland opened up late in the final round with a series of huge punches but was unable to find a finish and the fight went to the judges’ scorecards.

Du Plessis earned the split decision victory and sank to his knees in tears before thanking his coaches.

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“I honestly thought with the takedowns, I made sure in every round. I could feel it was a close one, I definitely gave him the first round,” a triumphant Du Plesis said in a post-fight interview before calling out former champ Adesanya.

By The African Mirror