Sean Strickland vs Dricus du Plessis – UFC 297: start time, fight card results and round-by-round updates as controversial middleweight champion defends his title

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Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for the latest updates as Sean Strickland defends his middleweight championship against Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297.

Snoozefest so far

There are some boos and it is understandable why. This feels like a sparring session right now with both men trading, almost taking turns and refusing to take any kind of risk to get ahead, really hard to score heading into the final five minutes.

A sleepy first round

Curtis is happy to use the first round to observe his opponent and make reads for the next 10 minutes. Neither man is particularly interested in being the aggressor and Barriault seemed to be throwing at 70 percent power, although he did land a nice body kick. More action in the second please.

The smile of a Hall of Famer

TORONTO, ONTARIO – JANUARY 20: Frankie Edgar reacts after the announcement of his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame in the class of 2024 during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Next: Chris Curtis vs. Marc André Barriault

A good old-fashioned showdown between the United States and Canada now. Curtis, who is Strickland’s teammate and best friend, is looking to move up the middleweight rankings in enemy territory, with the crowd backing his man Barriault 100 percent.

Rip: Frankie Edgar enters the Hall of Fame

dToronto audiences are treated to a delightful highlights package in tribute to Edgar, who watches with a smile from his seat. The voiceover says that his legacy was cemented by three wins over an excellent BJ Penn and it’s hard to disagree with that. Well deserved.

How did Evloev escape from this?

Allen had this one very tight and Evloev must have been worried for a moment about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. He basically turned 360 degrees to force his head out.

TORONTO, ONTARIO – JANUARY 20: (L-R) Arnold Allen of England works for a submission against Movsar Evloev of Russia in a featherweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

29-28 unanimous decision

Allen falls short. Evloev says: “Arnold is a good fighter, but you know, I feel like I can fight anyone in my division now.” Let’s see who wins between Alex Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria and I’m ready to fight the winner. 18-0 is no joke. Everyone is waiting for the results but thank God for the victory.

TORONTO, ONTARIO – JANUARY 20: (RL) Movsar Evloev of Russia kicks Arnold Allen of England in a featherweight bout during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Great final round!

It looks 18-0 for Evloev. Allen gets a harsh warning from Marc Goddard for knees to the head when Evloev had his hand on the mat, it was a close call but it was the right call. Allen knows he has to chase the KO and lets go a little. He threatened to finish with a ninja choke, but the Russian dug in and has clearly done enough to win this one as we head to the scorecards.

Allen shuddered!

‘Almighty’ is simply surviving at the moment after briefly falling to one knee and suffering a serious cut under his eye. He managed to get back to his feet after another takedown, but he’s not getting much of his own offense out of it and is surprisingly getting caught by the Russian. He needs a big stoppage to win here.

Evloev opens the scoring

Solid start for Allen and he looks extremely light on his feet and confident, landing a couple of good body shots. But the Russian has his own success with the jab and does not suffer any serious damage. He takes the Brit down towards the end of the round, but manages to put up a good fight, not enough to win the round, which was close, but it could be a sign of things to come.

Will Arnold be able to recover?

This is one of the most intriguing matchups on the entire card. Allen has strutted his stuff with ‘We Will Rock You’, which is always a real pleasure. Second time he heard that today after watching Knight’s Tale before.

Allen wants to show that his game is complete against a supreme fighter, having fought strikers in his recent matches. An impressive display here puts him back in contention for the featherweight title shot.

TORONTO, ONTARIO – JANUARY 20: Arnold Allen of England has his hands bandaged before his fight during the UFC 297 event at Scotiabank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario.  (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

MAIN CARD TIME

Here we go! Strickland and Du Plessis appeared on the giant screens inside the arena and received a massive pop from the crowd. The Canadians are on hand for this match and are enjoying the start of the main card. The prelims didn’t exactly catch fire, but hopefully Arnold Allen will get them up first.

Game face on

Du Plessis has had an air of confidence about him all week, as if to say Strickland is not on his level. There have been times where the South African’s cardio has seemed suspect and his striking clumsy, but he is tremendously effective and has yet to be defeated in the UFC.

Arnold is back tonight!

I spoke briefly with Arnold Allen this week ahead of his return to the Octagon nine months after he came up short against Holloway. That loss still bothers him, but a win over the undefeated Evloev tonight would put him back in the title conversation.

Chaos in the decision!

Absolutely strange, the crowd thinks Jordain won the decision because there is so much noise in Toronto and Bruce Buffer’s call to Sean sounded like Charles, indicating the celebrations from the Canadian’s camp and the fans before Daniel Cormier had to sheepishly clarify it .

Strickland: the most controversial UFC fighter

Sean Strickland’s long list of jaw-dropping life and career incidents is something that can only be found in MMA. He has suffered severe childhood trauma which at least explains his behavior at times without excusing it. Here’s a look inside his world.

Tavares sneaks in

Tavares missed weight by four pounds, so he gets some boos from the crowd when he makes a split decision. Sidy should have had it for my money, but it was a close rematch between two guys who fought on the Contender Series when an early stoppage led to tonight’s clash.

Strickland in top form

Strickland hasn’t always looked like an elite athlete, but he’s clearly put in a lot of effort for this one. He knows there are big fights in his future and he can cash in on the PPV points with a somewhat sustained reign, but he faces a man like Du Plessis desperate to become South Africa’s first UFC champion.

TORONTO, ONTARIO – JANUARY 19: Sean Strickland is seen on stage during the UFC 297 ceremonial weigh-in at the Scotiabank Arena on January 19, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario.  (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Good news for Du Plessis?

He occasionally gets it right, but he is known for his cursing and generally poor betting record. Anyway, Drake is going to do something big with Strickland tonight…

Bravo Robertson

Canada is a ‘lucky charm’…

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