UFC 297: World title headed to South Africa, a new era at 135 lbs

Dricus Du Plessis waves the South African flag after becoming the UFC Middleweight champion. Photo courtesy of Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

UFC 297 in Toronto, Canada saw the middleweight title change hands and a brand new bantamweight queen crowned. Preceding the championship fights, the main card for Toronto’s UFC return kicked off with a clash between two of the best at 145 lbs.

Movsar Evloev vs. Arnold Allen

Before we arrived to the title fights, featherweights Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev went at it in a fight which held big stakes at the 145 lbs division. The bout was a closely contested one between the pair. A close first round was followed by a second round seemingly won by Evloev.

Allen went out into the third round knowing he needed a big moment and that is exactly what he did. The English featherweight was putting the pressure on Evloev until he got the Russian prospect into a neck crank position. The two men were still on their feet throughout this position and Allen started to throw knees to the head. After four knees to Evloev’s head, referee Marc Goddard called for separation. During that moment, Goddard deemed the knees illegal claiming Evloev was downed and gave Allen a warning. The fight ended up going to the scorecards with Evloev coming out on top via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). 

Fans later took their frustration to social media claiming the knees thrown by Allen were legal and that the separation prevented Allen from potentially scoring the finish. 

Goddard stated his point of view via Instagram. “I let first 3 play out and 4th [knee] is where I call for neutral separation. We also did not have anytime replay. I respectfully work with what I have & apply common sense.” 

Chris Curtis vs. Marc-André Barriault 

After the high stakes featherweight bout, Chris Curtis and Marc-André Barriault were next in line to throw down. A rather slow fight compared to some of the previous ones on display and it was certainly showed by the fans at the Scotiabank Arena as the boos rained down. Former UFC bantamweight champion and current commentator Dominick Cruz referred to this fight as a sparring session during the broadcast.

Curtis ended up getting the judges’ nod via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27) and brought victory home to Xtreme Couture.

Mike Malott vs. Neil Magny

Niagara Top Team’s own “Proper” Mike Malott was up next with one of his biggest challenges to date. Across from Malott was the “Haitian Sensation” Neil Magny. 

Following an amazing crowd reception, Malott was showing the way throughout the first two rounds and everything indicated that we would see him in the next rankings update. That was the case until Magny flipped a switch in the third round and outlasted Malott. Magny knew he needed a finish and that’s exactly what he provided. After relentless pressure, the “Haitian Sensation” found himself on the top position unleashing vicious ground and pound to the fan favorite. With just 15 seconds left, the referee stopped the action as Magny completed the comeback.

Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

Raquel “Rocky” Pennignton and Mayra “Sheetara” Bueno Silva battled it out to see who would claim the vacant undisputed bantamweight title. It was a technical fight between both ladies in which they each had their moments. It was the “Rocky” show for the most part as her experience proved to be too much for Bueno Silva that night and became the first bantamweight champion following Amanda Nunes’ retirement. Pennington scored the unanimous decision victory (49-46, 49-46, 49-45) and expressed her desire to settle the ‘beef’ with fellow bantamweight and former champion Julianna Peña as her first title defense. 

Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis

We then arrived to the night’s main attraction. The moment arrived for fan favorite and middleweight champion Sean Strickland to defend his title for the first time. It was also a night of firsts for his opponent Dricus Du Plessis as he was competing in his first UFC title fight and main event after going unbeaten in the promotion. 

The first round was a very good one for Xtreme Couture’s Strickland as he set the tone early. 

The second round was a very close one and one where Du Plessis shifted gears and initiated action. 

The third and fourth rounds were seemingly won by Du Plessis as the broadcast suggested. 

Going into the fifth and final round, there were two possibilities. It was either 2-2 or 3-1 in favor of Du Plessis. Regardless, the fifth round was a crucial one. After completing the 25 minutes, Strickland seemed to have gotten the better of the two in the last round. 

Bruce Buffer made his way into the octagon and announced the scorecards. It was a life changing moment for Du Plessis and South Africa when the world heard “And New”. The South African won via split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48) and became the first fighter from his country to claim undisputed gold inside the UFC.

With there being two new belt holders coming out of UFC 297, the promotion has new scenarios and opportunities regarding matchmaking. For the women’s bantamweight title, a fight between Pennington and Peña seems to be the move in a bout which not only carries title stakes, but also personal beef. 

When asked about an immediate rematch between Du Plessis and Strickland, UFC CEO and President Dana White turned it down saying “We are not looking at a rematch. I’m sure these guys will fight each other again down the line.”

White’s stance on a rematch between Du Plessis and Strickland may hint at the middleweight division finally having some beef settled in a fight that would be disputed between two men with history. Dricus Du Plessis vs Israel Adesanya may potentially be the fight at 185 lbs especially with UFC 300 seemingly needing a main event. 

UFC 297 Full Results


Dricus Du Plessis def. Sean Strickland via SD (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)


Raquel Pennington def. Mayra Bueno Silva via UD (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)

Welterweight bout:

Neil Magny def. Mike Malott via TKO (R3)

Middleweight bout:

Chris Curtis def. Marc-André Barriault via SD (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)

Featherweight bout:

Movsar Evloev def. Arnold Allen via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Bantamweight bout: 

Garrett Armfield def. Brad Katona via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Featherweight bout:

Sean Woodson def. Charles Jourdain via SD (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Bantamweight bout:

Ramon Taveras def. Serhiy Sidey via SD (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Strawweight bout:

Gillian Robertson def. Polyana Viana via TKO (R2)

Welterweight bout:

Sam Patterson def. Yohan Lainesse via SUB (R1)

Bantamweight bout:

Jasmine Jasudavicius def. Priscila Cachoeira via SUB (R3)

Flyweight bout:

Jimmy Flick def. Malcolm Gordon via SUB (R2)


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