The UFC has experienced massive success holding events in Canada and MMA fans in The Great North are always excited for them to return.
They won’t have that long of a wait as UFC 297 will be taking place in Toronto in January 2024, with president Dana White having announced three title fights this week. Sean Strickland will be defending his middleweight title against Dricus du Plessis, while featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will face challenger IIia Topuria at UFC 298. UFC 299 will see bantamweight champ Sean O’Malley face off with Marlon “Chito” in a rematch.
“In January, we’re doing Sean Strickland v Dricus Du Plessis,” White said in a video. “In February, we’re doing Volkanovski v Topuria, and in March we’re doing O’Malley v Vera. Busting into the new year with some fun fights. I’ll see you guys in New York City.”
Strickland is on a three-bout winning streak and shocked the world when he beat Israel Adesanya to win the 185-pound title at UFC 293 back in September. Meanwhile, Du Plessis is undefeated in UFC and is the second-ranked competitor in the official middleweight category.
He’s won six fights with the promotion, with his latest coming against Robert Whittaker via TKO.
Canadian fans must be looking forward to the title fight and will likely be flocking to Canadian sports betting sites ahead of the match. However, Strickland doesn’t seem to be so excited about having to fight in said country.
The California native has developed a prickly reputation as a former white supremacist who is known to make controversial statements, including about women and race. He’s -155 to come out on the winning end of his UFC 297 bout, while du Plessis is +135.
Strickland took to social media to criticize White’s decision to have him defend his title in Canada following the president’s announcement this week.
“Why Canada?!?! GSP you do this bs?! No guns, no freedom of speech.. UFC you f***ing with me?!?!” he posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
He also reacted to the development on his Instagram page, claiming he didn’t want to fight in January, nor did he want to be in Canada but would bring “some freedom” to the country.
“Well Canada, time to bring you all some freedom. Didn’t want to fight in Jan or in Canada but was asked to help a couple ladies do their job.. and they call me sexist,” he wrote.
This is in reference to the bantamweight title fight booked for Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva.
The American has earned plenty of detractors as a result of his brash demeanor but there are plenty who reckon he doesn’t actually believe what he says and is simply engaging in such language for infamy.
He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way before fighting Abux Magomedov in July as he suggested women should no longer be allowed to work.
“We need to go back to taking women out of the workforce, and maybe that’s where we f****d up,” he said. “We let women vote, no offense. Think about America prior to women voting.
“They tried to ban alcohol, I don’t even drink but I’m not trying to ban alcohol. So, what you did, man, you let these women come into the workforce, now we make less money, you got kids raising themselves on TikTok, we need to go back to like 1942, maybe 1958 after we f****d up the Germans.”
Strickland appeared to be nowhere close to contention for a belt last year after losing consecutive fights to Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier but has since won three on the bounce.
Given these latest comments, you could bet Canadian fans will be hoping he gets his face kicked in by the unbeaten South African. Du Plessis, who has a record of 14-2 and, as mentioned above, is yet to be defeated, will go into the bout with plenty of backing.
The UFC would have probably gone for a Strickland vs. Adesanya rematch, but the latter has opted to take an indefinite break from fighting following his recent loss. Du Plessis, who was set to fight Adesanya before Strickland, missed out on the clash due to an injury.
“Makes no difference to me, the belt is coming home,” du Plessis posted to social media after Strickland took the silverware off Adesanya.
Prior to fighting Adesanya, he revealed he punched a fan who told Israel would “F him up.”
“I’d only been in Australia a day and already I’d committed an assault,” he gloated.
He went viral for chasing another man while wielding a flamethrower sometime after the fight.