Dricus Du Plessis Recalls ‘Frustrating’ Sean Strickland Fight: ‘He Said Till Death & Just Walked Backwards’

Dricus Du Plessis recently looked back on the fight that saw him crowned as the UFC middleweight champion earlier this year.

Du Plessis is currently gearing up for his first defense of the 185-pound title, which goes down (under) in Perth, Australia, as the UFC 305 pay-per-view main event next month.

The South African will finally square off with Israel Adesanya close to a year on from their originally planned showdown. After upsetting Robert Whittaker, Du Plessis was expected to challenge “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 293 in Sydney last September.

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But their rivalry — a sensitive and historical one born out of Du Plessis’ controversial comments regarding the UFC’s African champs — was put on the back burner after an injury to “Stillknocks.”

In his place, Sean Strickland made the long-haul flight to Australia and capitalized in emphatic fashion, outpointing Adesanya dominantly.

While that served as another delay in Adesanya vs. Du Plessis coming to fruition, the latter brought the matchup back to the surface when he rendered Strickland’s reign a short one at UFC 297 in Toronto this past January.

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Du Plessis Describes Fighting ‘Very Tricky’ Strickland

During a recent appearance on the All Talk podcast, Du Plessis reflected on his experience fighting the unique style of Strickland in Canada six months ago.

After noting his former opponent’s shock win over Adesanya, the reigning champ outlined the difficulty that comes with fighting “Tarzan’s” unorthodox approach.

More than handling that, however, Du Plessis said his real agitation came when Strickland failed to deliver on his promise of a ‘fight-to-the-death’ war — a criticism that has since reared its head again after Strickland’s victory over Paulo Costa at UFC 302.

“(Strickland’s) a very tricky guy. He’s hard to hit, he has a sneaky jab — not a lot of power, but he hits the target and is really, really hard to catch,” Du Plessis said. “Let me say it this way, it was frustrating (to fight him) because he said, ‘Till death,’ and he just walked backwards the whole time. So that was a little frustrating.

“But I mean, he did catch me with that jab for the first two rounds the whole time,” Du Plessis continued. “To be honest, I felt the jabs and I just thought, ‘I’ll just go through them.’ All of a sudden, I just couldn’t see out of my eye anymore. I realized, ‘I have to start blocking these.'”

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Having successfully gotten past Strickland’s style in narrow fashion, Du Plessis is next tasked with replicating his ex-rival’s feat from 2023.

After some heated interactions last year and a tense faceoff at the UFC 305 on-sale press conference last week, Du Plessis and Adesanya will finally throw down inside the cage on August 17 at Perth’s RAC Arena.

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