In the dimly lit corridors of combat sports, where bravado and menacing threats dance like shadows against the unforgiving canvas of the Octagon, Middleweight champion Sean “Tarzan” Strickland has issued a sinister warning to his South African adversary, Dricus Du Plessis. As the pulse of anticipation for their UFC 297 main-event clash in Toronto quickens, the air seems to crackle with the potency of their rivalry.
During a revealing rendezvous on his YouTube channel alongside compatriot Chris Curtis, Strickland disclosed that he had delivered a cautionary missive to Du Plessis. His words were more than just a pre-fight jab—they bore the weight of a deeply personal line that, if crossed again, threatened to ignite unbridled fury. “Listen Dricus, we’re going to go try to murder each other,” Strickland admitted, his voice dripping with dark intent, “but if you bring that [stuff] up again, I will stab you.” An F-bomb punctuated his point like a dagger thrust with precision.
Strickland’s troublesome past, marred by a childhood haunted by his late father’s violence and alcohol-fueled wrath, had been thrown into the spotlight by Du Plessis in a previous confrontation. Du Plessis had seized upon Strickland’s history of abuse during an incendiary December news conference exchange, following Strickland’s unparliamentary remarks about his rival’s connection with his coach.
“Your dad doesn’t have [expletive] on me,” Du Plessis had asserted with venomous confidence, “Every childhood memory you have is going to come back when I’m in there with you.” To which an enraged Strickland had thundered back, with a prophetic chill: “I will take your soul.”
Retrospectively, Strickland underscored the gravity of Du Plessis’ transgression, the unspoken law of combat to which he subscribed. A boundary of warfare that, once overstepped, would warrant action outside the realm of the sport. A haunting possibility that Strickland might lash out, should such sentiments be rekindled on Canadian soil.
Yet, it wasn’t their first tango with turmoil. UFC 296 had witnessed a preliminary skirmish, fans becoming an impromptu audience to a scuffle amidst the crowd. Amidst the televised spectacle, Strickland’s pantomimed gunshot gesture was met by Du Plessis’ scorn, resulting in Strickland vaulting across seats to exchange blows before security and bystanders could intervene. UFC president Dana White, accepting accountability for their proximate seating, reminded all that while the fighter’s spirit is intrinsic, such extracurricular outbursts are unwanted.
With UFC poised to make a grand return to Toronto for the first time since 2018, Strickland, boasting a record of 28-5-0, prepares to defend his title, a mantle secured after a spectacular upset over Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya. Meanwhile, the indomitable Du Plessis rides the momentum of an eight-fight winning streak, his prowess within the UFC unblemished after six encounters.
Yet, the ever-controversial Strickland seems unfazed at the prospect of battle on Canadian turf, cloaking his reluctance with a typical brand of irreverence freely dispensed on his Instagram. “Well Canada, time to bring you all some freedom,” he declared, albeit begrudgingly alluding to his participation in an event also featuring a high-stakes bout for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title, a match he dismissively suggested was beneath him.
Tension simmers as UFC 297 looms, a dramatic stage set for two warriors to inscribe their saga. Each word spoken now is a spark near a powder keg of intensity, each fighter standing on a precipice, where only one truth remains unchallenged—the ruthless ballet of violence that awaits them under the bright lights of the Octagon.