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UFC 297 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis Bet on New Champ in Main Event (Saturday, January 20)
Updated:2024-05-03 22:15    Views:133
Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis OddsStrickland Odds-108Du Plessis Odds-108Over/Under2.5 rounds (-112 / -116)LocationScotiabank Arena in TorontoTime11:59 p.m. ETTV/StreamingESPN+ PPVOdds as of Saturday evening and via FanDuel. Use our FanDuel promo code to bet on UFC 297!

Here's everything you need to know about Sean Strickland vs. Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297 on Saturday, Jan. 20 – our expert UFC prediction and pick.

UFC middleweight gold is on the line on Saturday night in Toronto.

Champion Sean Strickland, who won the belt off of Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in Australia, will make his first title defense when he meets No. 2-ranked contender Dricus Du Plessis, who is 6-0 in the promotion and most recently finished former champion Robert Whittaker in a title eliminator at UFC 290.

Du Plessis has seen all but one of his professional fights end inside the distance, and he's never fought beyond the 15-minute mark in his career.

Conversely, Strickland is one of the better point fighters in the division (13-3 record in decisions), and Saturday will mark his seventh career main-event slot and five-round fight.

Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for the finale of the ESPN+ pay-per-view main card (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV, cost: $79.99) and utilize those factors to preview the UFC 297 main event and make my Strickland vs. Du Plessis bet.

Tale of the TapeStricklandDu PlessisRecord28-520-2Avg. Fight Time14:439:11Height6'1"6'1"Weight (pounds)184.75 lbs.184 lbs.Reach (inches)76"76"StanceOrthodoxSwitchDate of birth2/27/19911/14/1994Sig Strikes Per Min5.826.95SS Accuracy41U%SS Absorbed Per Min4.23.8SS Defense63S%Take Down Avg0.922.72TD Acc64P%TD Def84@%Submission Avg0.21.1

Although the pair have identical measurements, Du Plessis is the more natural middleweight and a superior athlete in terms of raw power.

Du Plessis retains all of the grappling upside in this fight, and I generally side with grappling upside at plus money – but he also carries more power both on the feet and from the top position.

Early in the fight, Dricus should provide forward pressure to meet Strickland in the center of the cage instead of staying on the back foot – like Adesanya – and getting pressured and picked apart against the fence.

Strickland is the superior boxer, especially defensively, as he uses the shoulder roll and Philly shell to avoid head strikes from opponents. When big shots get through – like one left hook from Alex Pereira – Strickland doesn't necessarily have an elite chin; he doesn't allow himself to get hit clean very often.

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I'd expect Du Plessis to deploy leg and body kicks early, when he may have the advantage in the striking. Strickland should pull away on head strikes over 25 minutes, but Du Plessis can hurt him – and change the scoring of any round – with one big punch.

And aside from kicking, I'd expect Du Plessis to look to grapple from the outset. After defeating Whittaker last July, Du Plessis was subsequently seen submitting an entire Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school. Half of his wins have come by submission, and he's an underrated wrestler.

While Strickland has shown excellent takedown defense (85%), he hasn't faced a grappler of this caliber in at least a couple of years (Jack Hermansson was the last to threaten the takedown). And he showed some concerning signs in his win over Abus Magomedov, allowing the Russian to seize his back – and put hands around his neck – almost immediately after securing the takedown:

Strickland ultimately escaped from the bottom, but a more competent grappler like Du Plessis could have done more or threatened to end the fight from that position.

Like that Magomedov fight, Strickland's most significant advantage against Du Plessis might be cardio. The South African has been finished in the third round in both of his professional losses and has shown awkward breathing and body language down the stretch of his more grueling matchups.

Strickland can maintain a hectic pace for 25 minutes and could conceivably fall behind on the scorecards early, allowing Du Plessis to tire himself out, turn on the gas down the stretch, and secure a late-round stoppage.

However, Du Plessis underwent surgery to fix a breathing impairment in his nose (which previously allowed an 8% oxygen intake) last April – before the Whittaker fight, the best performance of his career. It's entirely possible that a post-nasal-surgery Du Plessis may have a different level of stamina than we have previously seen.

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The general handicapping narrative of this fight seems to be either Du Plessis's early or Strickland's late. However, I'm not as confident that Strickland takes over completely down the stretch; I'd expect to see a career-best version of Du Plessis on Saturday. Fixing that nasal impairment may have been career-altering.

Either way, Du Plessis seems correct from a pre-fight betting perspective. Regardless of how his cardio holds up in the later rounds, Dricus should find his best moments early as Strickland plays rope-a-dope and attempts to weather the storm.

I'd target Strickland live after the first, second or third rounds, both when Du Plessis typically starts to fade, as Strickland is potentially behind on the scorecards and sitting at plus money in the live betting markets.

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Strickland vs. Du Plessis Pick

In this matchup, I projected Dricus Du Plessis as a 53% favorite (-113 implied odds). I would bet his moneyline at -105 (51.2% implied) or better.

I don't see value concerning the total. I expect the fight to end inside the distance around 69% of the time (-218 implied odds), more toward the conservative side of the market (-290 Yes, +215 No), but without an edge to make a wager.

Concerning props, some books have a good number on Sean Strickland by decision (projected +325, listed +400 at BetRivers) while others offer a juicy number on Du Plessis by submission (projected +440, listed +550 at FanDuel). I'd also consider betting Du Plessis to win inside the distance (projected +122, listed +130 at DraftKings).

You can also consider betting Strickland to win in Round 4 (+1800) or Round 5 (+2500), assuming Du Plessis will fade down the stretch.

I want action on Du Plessis pre-fight, and I'd look to add Strickland live at plus money after Rounds 1, 2, or 3.

As of this writing, Betway has the best line at +100, and FanDuel isn't far behind at -102.

The Pick: Dricus Du Plessis (+100 at Betway)

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