- What: UFC 297 Main Event
- Who: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis
- Date: Saturday, January 20, 2024
- Location: Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Time: Early Prelims (6:15 p.m. ET) Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET) PPV Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPN2), Main Card (ESPN+ Pay-Per-View)
The first UFC pay-per-view event of 2024, UFC 297, takes place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on January 20, 2024. The ESPN+ streaming pay-per-view card sees UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland defending his title for the first time since he took the belt from Israel Adesanya at UFC 293. Strickland faces No. 2 ranked UFC 185-pounder Dricus du Plessis. Here is some information on Strickland vs. Du Plessis before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 297 PPV card.
When he faced Adesanya in September, Sean Strickland (28-5) was a massive betting underdog. Despite the long odds, he took the decision win (49-46 x3) to extend his winning streak to three in a row. Strickland is 8-2 since returning from a motorcycle accident that cost him two years of activity.
Dricus du Plessis (20-2) is unbeaten in the UFC (6-0). The former KSW welterweight champ is coming off an upset knockout win over former UFC middleweight titleholder Robert Whittaker in July 2023. Du Plessis has earned stoppage victories in his past three outings.
UFC 297 main event: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis betting picks
|To Win UFC Middleweight Title
|Dricus du Plessis
UFC 297 main event: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis betting breakdown
This is an intriguing stylistic matchup. In Sean Strickland, we have a striker who uses a high-volume approach and forward pressure to wear down his foes. Strickland doesn’t have single-strike knockout power, but his cardio is top-notch, his willingness to keep moving forward is admirable, and the strength of his chin is noteworthy. All those traits will come into play against Dricus du Plessis, a fighter with single-punch knockout power and a high-pressure style. The glaring difference in this fight is cardio, where Strickland has a massive advantage.
Strickland can be hit, and that’s where the danger lies for him in this matchup. If Du Plessis tags him cleanly, the challenger has the power to end the fight in a heartbeat, something we saw when Alex Pereira put Strickland away in June 2022. However, Du Plessis is not nearly as talented as Pereira in the striking department.
Where Strickland has a massive advantage is in cardio. If he can get past the second round, Strickland has the cardio to pull away from Du Plessis in the later rounds, racking up points via volume. Du Plessis has not fought for five rounds in the past and his cardio has been suspect in the past.
UFC 297 main event: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis statistical breakdown
We have two of the most active strikers in the UFC middleweight division in this contest. Strickland lands 6.08 significant strikes per minute as a 185-pounder, while Du Plessis is the No. 1 ranked active UFC middleweight, landing 6.95 strikes per minute. Strickland and Du Plessis are also two of the best when it comes to striking differential. Du Plessis is No. 1 among active UFC middleweights with a plus 3.16 differential, while Strickland is No. 4 with a plus 1.84 differential. One thing that gets overlooked from Strickland is his defense. No active UFC middleweight has a better striking defense than Strickland at 65.4 percent. Du Plessis’ defense is 53 percent.
I don’t expect much groundwork in this fight, but Strickland’s UFC takedown defense is 84 percent, which could come into play against Du Plessis, who sticks 2.72 takedowns per 15 minutes of action.
Best Bets: UFC 297 main event – Sean Strickland vs. Dricus du Plessis
This is a tough fight to pick. Dricus du Plessis has the power to end this contest at any moment, but to do so he needs to catch Strickland flush, which is very hard to do. Du Plessis also has the power to pick up points by accumulating damage throughout the matchup. Again, he needs to land to do that.
For those who believe Du Plessis can catch Strickland and that his cardio issues are behind him, the betting pick is the challenger to take the title from Strickland. For those who favor the champion’s cardio, volume, and defense, the betting pick is for the champion to retain.
Power is the great equalizer, and du Plessis has that power. The betting pick is for Dricus du Plessis to beat Sean Strickland by knockout.
Best UFC 297 betting pick: Dricus du Plessis to beat Sean Strickland via knockout.
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