UFC 297: Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis Betting Preview

January 15, 2024 by David Nugent

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipThe UFC will head to Canada to host its first pay per view card of 2024 and MMA fans are excited to get back to regular UFC programming after the premier MMA promotion took a long break during the holidays.

UFC 297 is set to take place at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario on Jan 20 and will be headlined by two title fights.

The Main Event will see UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland defend his belt for the first time against South African Dricus Du Plessis.

This is a very quick turnaround fight for Strickland who fought Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in Sep 2023.

Adesanya had the option for pushing for an immediate rematch with Strickland but decided against it as he wanted to take some time off from fighting. The next rightful contender was Dricus Du Plessis who had initially been approached to fight Adesanya for the belt but turned the fight down which allowed Sean Strickland to step in and win the belt.

The second title fight will be for the vacant women’s bantamweight championship which was vacated by GOAT Amanda Nunes after she retired. The UFC initially wanted to book a championship fight between former champ Julianna Pena and Raquel Pennington but Pena could not make it due to injury.

Stepping up to face Pennington will be Brazilian Mayra Bueno Silva who beat former champ Holly Holm in July 2023 but had the decision overturned after she failed a drug test. As of this writing, we are not sure who the UFC might have as backup fighters for the two championship bouts.

UFC 297 will also feature a number of other exciting fights one of which is a great featherweight fight between two young contenders as Arnold Allen takes on the undefeated Movsar Evloev. Canadian MMA fans will be happy to see some of their top Canadian fighters on this card which include the likes of Mike Mallot, Marc Andre Barriault and Charles Jourdain.

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UFC 296 – what happened?

UFC 296 was the final pay per view card of 2023 and the card took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada on Dec 16. This card was also headlined by two title fights as UFC welterweight champion took on top prospect Colby Covington. Former President Donald Trump who has a close relationship with Covington was in attendance hoping to see Colby become champion.

However, it wasn’t to be Colby’s night as he put on a very strange performance and did not look himself in the Octagon. He hardly engaged or showed any initiative during the first two rounds and looked very sluggish – which could be due to the fact that he wasn’t active for close to two years and the ring rust showed.

Colby did not show any initiative to take the fight to the champ and win the belt. The champ Leon Edwards was happy to outpoint him and win the fight by decision. Overall, it was a disappointing Main Event fight for the fans as Covington talked a big game leading up to the fight but did not deliver. It’s hard to see Covington getting another title shot at welterweight anytime soon after this performance, as he has had 3 shots at the title so far but hasn’t won!

The co-Main Event saw flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja defend his belt for the first time against Brandon Royval. It was very much a one sided fight as Pantoja took the fight to Royal and dominated both on the feet and the ground. Pantoja did look to finish the fight but wasn’t able to and ended up winning by decision. This was another title fight that fans expected a lot more but it Royval took too long to pull the trigger and it cost him in the end. We don’t see him getting another title shot anytime soon at Pantoja as the two have fought twice so far and Pantoja has won both!

* Odds have been provided by Casumo and are accurate of Jan 15, 2024

Main Event Breakdown: UFC Middleweight Championship

Casual MMA fans might not be aware that there is now a lot of bad blood between Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis after they had an explosive press-conference to close out 2023. Strickland who has a reputation for running his mouth and saying crazy things, took a below the belt shot at Du Plessis and his coach alleging that they indulged in homosexual activities.

Du Plessis initially tried to laugh it off but a little later decided to get back at Strickland and brought up his abusive childhood and made reference to how Strickland’s father used to beat him and cause him nightmares. That touched a raw nerve for Strickland who admitted that Du Plessis did get under his skin and should not be bringing up childhood abuse just to make a point!

Du Plessis pointed out that Strickland was willing to dish it out in the press conference but wasn’t willing to take it! Since then, the two of them have stayed relatively quiet on social media and have focused on their respective fight camps. Things could get heated againt as we get into media week and approach the fight. The biggest factor to consider here is whether Strickland is going to get emotional again and if he does, how will that impact his performance in the Octagon.

 

Sean Strickland (28 – 5 – 0)

Odds to win: -129 (1.78)

The champ goes into this fight as the betting favourite but might not be the crowd favourite on the night as Strickland has belittled Canada in the past and Canadians have a good memory. Strickland’s biggest strengths going into this fight will be his boxing and his cardio which were key to him winning the title against Adesanya.

Strickland prefers to stand and strike as he showed when he won the belt, but he will have to be prepared to go to the ground as Du Plessis will look to use his wrestling and take Strickland down. Casual MMA fans may not know that Strickland is pretty good on the mat but we generally don’t get to see that side of him as he prefers to stand and strike in all of his fights.

The biggest weaknesses for Strickland going into this fight will be the mental aspect of things. Will the champ be able to take control of his emotions or will he let it get the better of him? We also need to see how well Strickland’s take down defence and wrestling will hold up against Du Plessis who will be the heavier fighter on the night!

Dricus Du Plessis (20 – 2 – 0)

Odds to win: +104 (2.04)

Du Plessis is a big unit and that will definitely be to his advantage in the first two or three rounds of the fight. The South African is likely to come in with a gameplan that uses both his stand-up and his wrestling to win this fight and his gameplan will be the key factor to determine whether he ends up winning or losing.

Du Plessis has shown that he is mentally stronger in the lead up to this fight as he did not let Strickland’s homophobic remarks get the better of him but showed that he could play with the champ’s emotions. Whether Du Plessis will use mental warfare in the leadup to the fight and unsettle Strickland remains to be seen.

Du Plessis’s weakness in the past has been his cardio as he can get tired as the fight progresses. His camp has said in the past that the cardio issue has been fixed after Du Plessis got nose surgery and fixed what needed to be fixed. One thing we do know is that his cardio will be tested against Strickland and if that issue is not fixed, Strickland will win!

Prediction: We are going to back Du Plessis to become the first South African champion as we feel he will continue to taunt Strickland to get him emotional before the fight and that will work in his favour!

Co-Main Event: Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

Some MMA fans are not too thrilled to see both these ladies get a chance to fight for the bantamweight title. Raquel ‘Rocky’ Pennington is a UFC veteran who has fought a lot of big names over the course of her career but she hasn’t really been active and hasn’t won against any big names recently.

Rocky fought twice in 2021, winning one and losing one. She fought once in 2022 and won against Aspen Ladd who was cut from the promotion later on. She fought once in Jan 2023 and won a decision against Ketlen Vieira and hasn’t fought since then. Rocky should consider herself lucky for getting a title fight!

Raquel Pennington definitely has a bigger name in the UFC than her opponent Mayra Bueno Silva who a lot of UFC fans will not recognize. Silva’s biggest fight in the UFC was against former bantamweight champ Holly Holm in July 2023. She put on a terrific performance and stopped Holm in R2 and immediately called for a title shot.

However her win against Holm was overturned after Mayra Bueno Silva failed a drug test. The Brazilian fighter claimed that it was over her medication that she uses for ADD and it was flagged because she did not have an exemption release to use the drug. She should also consider herself lucky for getting a title shot after her failed drug test. This will be a tough challenge for Silva who hasn’t beaten any big names in her UFC career so far.

Raquel Pennington (15 – 9 – 0)

Odds to win: +138 (2.38)

Raquel Pennington goes into her title fight as the betting underdog and that’s because she is the older fighter and hasn’t fought for the last year. Rocky prefers a stand-up fight as her ground game isn’t that great. She does have a heavy right hand but will need to get her jab going in order to set up that right hand.

Pennington has blown hot and cold throughout her UFC career and knows this is most likely the last chance that she will get at becoming a UFC champion. We don’t know which Rocky will turn up for this fight and how will her cardio hold up if the fight goes the distance. Her best chance at winning is to take the fight to Silva and see if she can finish her in the first two rounds.

Mayra Bueno Silva (10 – 2 – 1)

Odds to win: -175 (1.58)

Silva looked really good in her fight against Holm and if we get that same version of her in the title fight, she should be able to run through Pennington. Silva does not mind standing and banging and at times will throw caution to the wind and take unnecessary risks. That could work both ways as it might get her a finish against Pennington but may also open her up to getting KO’d.

Silva has a good ground game and might end up playing it safe by looking to take Rocky down and submitting her.

Prediction: We expect Silva to become the new bantamweight champ and finish Pennington by submission.

David Nugent Editor

First off, I want to say hi and wish a warm welcome to all gambling aficionados out there! My name is David Nugent and I am editor-in-chief of LegitGambling.com. I have always enjoyed various sports, primarily soccer, as I am a die-hard Everton fan.

Over time, I learned more about sports betting and discovered the fascinating online gambling industry. Eventually,...

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