Du Plessis edges Strickland via split decision at UFC 297

Du Plessis edges Strickland via split decision at UFC 297

Dricus du Plessis became the first South African to win UFC gold last night, edging Sean Strickland by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) in the UFC 297 main event at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The closing odds were pick ’em at most books, but Strickland was a short favorite in the weeks leading up to the contest. Bettors taking ‘over’ 3.5 rounds cashed tickets for a +138 payout at BetRivers, which had a +195 return for wagers on ‘over’ 4.5 rounds.

Props on Du Plessis to win by decision had +750 odds. The prop for Du Plessis to win by split or majority decision had +2200 (or 22/1) odds at DraftKings.

According to MMADecisions, 13 media members scored the bout 48-47 for Du Plessis. Nine had it 48-47 for Strickland and one scored it 49-46 for Strickland.

“This is history,” Du Plessis said in his postfight interview. “When they said, ‘and new,’ it felt like 15 years of work, dreaming and sacrificing came together in one single sentence. It was incredible, it feels surreal. Amazing.”

Strickland looked sharp in the opening round, constantly peppering Du Plessis with his jab. All three judges gave the opening frame to Strickland to start this back-and-forth battle.

The judges unanimously awarded Du Plessis the second round, although Strickland continued to have lots of success with his jab in Round 2. Du Plessis did score a takedown in the second stanza, but Strickland got back to his feet pretty quickly without sustaining much damage.

Strickland’s job was clearly connecting because Du Plessis had a lot of swelling around his left eye going into Round 3. Nevertheless, Du Plessis kept coming forward and opened a cut above Strickland’s eye in the third.

Du Plessis appeared to seize the momentum in the fourth frame. After the bout, Strickland said that an accidental headbutt is what caused the cut on the left side of his lower forehead area. That cut joined the other in leaking into Strickland’s eye throughout most of the fourth and fifth rounds.

All the rounds were close with the exception of Round 1, but Strickland seemed to take the fifth. Both men were swinging for the fences in the last 20 seconds of the contest.

All three judges gave Strickland the fifth and Du Plessis the fourth. Therefore, the third round decided the bout. Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon gave Du Plessis the third, while Sal D’Amato scored the third for Strickland.

Du Plessis called out former champion, Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya in his postfight interview.

BetOnline has Adesanya installed as a -135 favorite in a potential showdown vs. Du Plessis, who is a +115 underdog.

In the co-main event, Raquel Pennington seized the women’s vacant bantamweight title by capturing a unanimous-decision win over Mayra Bueno Silva. The 35-year-old Pennington won by scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 49-45 as a +140 underdog.

Other winners on the main card included Neil Magny, Chris Curtis and Movsar Evloev.

Magny lost the first two rounds of his scrap with Canadien Mike Malott, but Magny pulled a stunner when he finished Malott with ground-and-pound punishment with just 15 seconds remaining.

Magny cashed tickets as a +320 underdog at Caesars. The prop for Magny to win by KO netted a +1100 (or 11/1) payout, and the prop for him to win in Round 3 produced a 26/1 return.

In a middleweight contest, Curtis won a split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27) over Marc-Andre Barriault as a -190 favorite. Evloev beat Arnold Allen via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) as a -200 ‘chalk.’

Du Plessis and Strickland took home an extra $50,000 apiece for Fight of the Night honors. The Performance of the Night bonuses went to Gillian Robertson and Jasmine Jasudavicius.

Robertson defeated Polyana Viana by second-round KO as a -300 favorite in a women’s strawweight fight. Jasudavicius finished Priscila Cachoeira via submission (anaconda choke) with only 39 seconds remaining in the third and final round. She won the women’s bantamweight scrap as a -420 ‘chalk.’