Sean Strickland stepped into the T-Mobile Arena with a certainty that his fists would soon collide with Dricus Du Plessis.
A mere 24 hours preceding the UFC’s final pay-per-view event of the year, the reigning middleweight champion found himself engaged in a fiery verbal altercation with Du Plessis. This intense verbal exchange happened during a press conference for their upcoming bout for the 185-pound title at UFC 297.
It is hardly surprising that Strickland responded the way he did when he realized the South African star was sitting within arms reach.
In the aftermath of an all-out brawl caught on social media, skepticism promptly surfaced among combat sports enthusiasts. Many questioned the authenticity of the incident, likening it to a meticulously planned segment from Vince McMahon’s promotional playbook.
Former UFC title challenger Gilbert Burns along with his family, was a witness to the incident. He shed light on the scuffle during the JAXXON podcast.
While confirming the reality of the altercation, Burns unveiled that it was far from impromptu. According to Burns, Strickland’s reaction was premeditated upon noticing Burns’ family in close proximity to Du Plessis.
Burns stated: “That was my wife and kid. And then when Sean came, he came and then he kind of looked at the guy. I think he’s already like ‘Man sh*t. You brought your wife and your kids,’ and I say yes. And he said, ‘Yeah this fricking guy is right there. I might do stuff with this guy.”
“That was before the fight! When he walked in, he already had the thing in his head. [Strickland said] If I do something, I’ll give you the heads up. Whenever the things start going down, this guy [Strickland] kind of look at me and said, ‘Now!’”
According to Burns, UFC CEO Dana White intervened quickly to help calm the situation. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the incident.
Burns continued: “They hit each other a little bit. People didn’t see that side of the camera. We saw because it was right there. There was kind of a little bit back-and-forth, but it was nothing clean. And then Dana came after the fight, like what happened, did anyone get hurt, anyone need anything? No, nothing happened to anyone. Even those guys, they fought each other.”
Set to defend his title on January 20, Sean Strickland prepares for his first title defense after a remarkable victory over Israel Adesanya.
On the other hand, Dricus Du Plessis gears up for his shot at the world title. He previously defeated Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 via second-round KO. Du Plessis recent boasts an eight-fight winning streak.