1705754069 UFC 297 a real zoo at a press conference in

UFC 297: a real zoo at a press conference in Toronto

TORONTO | Without mixed martial arts, Dricus Du Plessis and Sean Strickland would have absolutely nothing in common. The UFC 297 headliners are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

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Du Plessis (20-2-0, 9 KOs, 10 submissions), who is originally from South Africa, is generally polite, composed and respectful. Strickland (28-5-0, 11 KOs, 4 submissions), a North Carolina native, is the complete opposite.

However, the latter is the UFC middleweight champion and his belt will be on the line Saturday night at the ScotiaBank Arena in Toronto.

Tensions between the two men have been going on for a month since the last UFC gala (296) on December 16 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

You will understand that in this scenario, Du Plessis is the good one and Strickland is both the bad and the ugly.

Strickland appeared on stage at Thursday's news conference wearing a T-shirt with a large red maple leaf that read, “Make Canada Great Again.” Otherwise he behaved well and it was Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva, who will bear the brunt in the semi-finals, who pulled their hair out. We were also treated to a Strickland fan jumping on stage and being roughly restrained by security.

UFC 297 a real zoo at a press conference in

Dricus Du Plessis AFP


It all started during a press conference on the sidelines of UFC 296, where the two men insulted each other with great creativity. Du Plessis even claimed that he wanted to make Strickland relive his past traumas by alluding to the violence he suffered at the hands of his father.

Back to the gala evening. During a break between fights, the camera landed on Du Plessis, who was clowning around two rows behind Strickland. He stood up and raised his arms in the air.

As he turned around, Du Plessis appeared to extend an invitation, and Strickland told a woman and her son who were sitting between the two men to move, then jumped on Du Plessis and hit him. Several security forces had to intervene to separate them.

Strickland allegedly threatened Du Plessis by saying, “I will stab you.” And that has been the talk of Toronto for the past two days.

The Knockout Before

The sequence of events is confusing, but it appears that the two men added information via text message.

“I didn't tell him I was going to stab him, I sent him a private message to tell him I loved him and that he was a strong fighter,” Strickland said with a smile that is open to interpretation.

Du Plessis nevertheless confirmed that there had been a text message exchange between them.

“I opened my phone and saw that he had written me a private message essentially saying he was willing to apologize if he had crossed the line. But there were also threats that came with it. I told him that nothing he could say would have any effect on me.”

Looks crazy

With Strickland constantly having to be restrained to prevent him from getting into trouble, Du Plessis has obviously chosen the role of the good guy.

“He tried to intimidate me and when he saw that the crowd wasn't behind him, he made a joke out of it. We can take the hit, but his intimidating demeanor doesn't let up.

“I feel sorry for him because when you go out to have fun you don't necessarily want people to see you, but in his case it was all on the internet.”

Strickland, for his part, points out that he behaves this way mostly for fun, but it becomes difficult to separate the truth from the false.

“I spit on everyone, I make fun of people, but the difference is that it's nothing personal,” he said, indicating he was talking about Du Plessis' references to his childhood.

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The fact is that Strickland's team was forced to have a conversation with their fighter to prevent him from falling overboard. On Wednesday he even went to the microphone and said he would try not to use the word f***. He obviously failed.

What worries Du Plessis most about his opponent? No, that's not a problem in the octagon.

“Am I afraid he will sabotage the fight? Yes, it scares me that he will do anything to get out of this. But for me, the last press conference was about winning on the microphone and beating him at his own game. I’ve already won this fight, now I want to win the fight on Saturday.”

He also assured that what happened in Vegas last month wasn't choreographed, and we'll take his word for it.