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Sean Strickland of United States celebrates victory over Israel Adesanya of Nigeria to become the new middleweight champion of the world during the UFC 293 event at Qudos Bank Arena on September 10, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Fight Coverage

Fight By Fight Preview | UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

We're Back In Toronto For The First Pay Per View Of 2024! Let's Break It Down.

UFC 129 was a blockbuster — the biggest names, the biggest crowd, and the biggest production possible — before the next two events produced Jon Jones title defenses against Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort, as well as the crowning of the inaugural UFC flyweight champion.

UFC 165 caught everyone, including Jones, off guard, as Alexander Gustafsson pushed “Bones” to his limit, and then UFC 206 was the sleeper hit of the year — an outstanding event featuring a Hall of Fame fight, the first championship win of Max Holloway’s career, and much more.

The last time the UFC blew into “The Big Smoke,” Holloway busted up Brian Ortega, Valentina Shevchenko ascended to the flyweight throne, and the late Elias Theodorou collected what would be the final UFC victory of his career.

This weekend, the Octagon is back at Scotiabank Arena for UFC 297, where a pair of championship bouts headline a card loaded with Canadian talent and compelling fights, and we’ve got the whole thing previewed here for your reading enjoyment.

Main Event: Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis
Co-Main Event: Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Where to Watch: ESPN+/ESPN

How To Watch UFC 297 In Your Country

Other Main Card Matches:
•    Neil Magny vs Mike Malott
•    Chris Curtis vs Marc-Andre Barriault
•    Arnold Allen vs Movsar Evloev

Prelim Matches:
•    Brad Katona vs Garrett Armfield
•    Charles Jourdain vs Sean Woodson
•    Serhiy Sidey vs Ramon Taveras
•    Gillian Robertson vs Polyana Viana
•    Yohan Lainesse vs Sam Patterson
•    Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Priscila Cachoeira
•    Malcolm Gordon vs Jimmy Flick

Order UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

Main Event: Sean Strickland vs Dricus Du Plessis

After shocking the world last September in Sydney, Sean Strickland puts his middleweight title on the line for the first time against South African challenger Dricus Du Plessis.

Strickland collected a trio of wins in 2023, but obviously none bigger than his UFC 293 win over Israel Adesanya. What makes the performance so memorable and impressive is that it wasn’t some narrow victory or “just got caught” situation — Strickland dropped the champ in the opening stanza and stayed on the gas pedal the whole way, never allowing Adesanya into the fight and sweeping the scorecards to secure the win.

Main Event Preview | UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis
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Main Event Preview | UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis
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If not for Strickland’s exploits in Australia, Du Plessis’ UFC 290 win over Robert Whittaker might have registered as the biggest upset of the year. Despite having won each of his first five UFC appearances and seven straight overall heading into the fight, most expected “Stillknocks” to suffer the same fate as everyone else that had tried to leapfrog the former champion on their way to a championship opportunity, but instead, Du Plessis overwhelmed Whittaker, finishing him in the second round to cement his No. 1 contender status.

RELATED: Inside The Main Event Numbers | Strickland vs Du Plessis Countdown

Things have gotten heated between these two, spilling over into a dust-up at UFC 296 last month in Las Vegas, and it will be interesting to see how much of that carries over into the Octagon this weekend. Stylistically, it’s a fascinating pairing, as Du Plessis likes to be the aggressor as much as Strickland, so there should be a quality battle to see who dictates the terms of engagement from the outset.

It’s going to be a tremendous year in the middleweight division, and kicking things off with a championship fight to close out the first pay-per-view of 2024 is a great way to get things started.

Co-Main Event: Raquel Pennington vs Mayra Bueno Silva

Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva meet in this clash for the vacant bantamweight title, fighting for UFC gold and the opportunity to usher the division into the post-Nunes era.

The 35-year-old Pennington arrives on a five-fight winning streak, with her last victory coming last January against Ketlen Vieira. She took time off last year to welcome her first child with her wife, UFC strawweight Tecia Torres, and served as the backup fighter for Nunes’ final bout at UFC 289 in Vancouver, but will need to show there is no rust right out of the chute when she steps into the Octagon this weekend.

Raquel Pennington & Mayra Bueno Silva

Bueno Silva has been on a roll since relocating to the bantamweight division in the spring of 2022. Three straight wins brought a main event pairing opposite former champ Holly Holm, and while the second-round submission win was ruled a no contest after the Brazilian tested positive for ADHD meds in her pre-fight screening, the visual of “Sheetara” finishing Holm and further proving her legitimacy as a title threat remains.

RELATED: Inside The Co-Main Numbers | Countdown To New Bantamweight Champ

This one has a real “early and late” feel to it, where it seems one fighter has an edge in the early stages, and the other may benefit from dragging this thing into deeper waters. Pennington has the benefit of having been through a championship fight week before (plus another making weight just in case), but Bueno Silva has been rolling and presents a lot of challenges for anyone in the division.

After an incredible stretch with Nunes at the top of the division, getting things started anew in the 135-pound ranks at the beginning of the year makes a lot of sense, and should provide the division with the jolt of electricity it needs heading into 2024.

Other Main Card Fights

Neil Magny vs Mike Malott

The middle of the main card features another instalment of “Can You Crack the Top 15?” As veteran stalwart Neil Magny faces off with surging Canadian Mike Malott.

Magny, who holds numerous divisional records, has been a permanent fixture in the rankings for the better part of the last decade, amassing more welterweight victories than anyone else in UFC history. While he’s struggled against elite competition, he’s consistently turned back those not quite ready or able to hang in the Top 10 and is faced with a similar task in Toronto this weekend.

Mike Malott enters the cage before facing Adam Fugitt in their welterweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Mike Malott enters the Octagon before facing Adam Fugitt in their welterweight fight during the UFC 289 event at Rogers Arena on June 10, 2023 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Malott was the breakout fighter at UFC 289 in Vancouver, and now he gets to compete an hour down the 403 from where he grew up. The 32-year-old Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) grad has earned finishes in all three of his UFC victories thus far and each of his 10 career wins overall, and has designs on keeping that trend going as he steps into the biggest fight of his career in front of family and friends at what all the locals still know as The ACC.

You have to credit Magny for constantly taking these types of fights against ascending talents looking to claim his place in the rankings. He’s faltered against elite talents, but hasn’t lost consecutive bouts in years, while Malott is taking a major step up in competition in this one. It will also be interesting to see how the promising Canadian, who has happily taken up the mantle as the leader of this next generation of UFC competitors from the Great White North, is able to navigate the increased attention that comes with continued success and fighting at home on the biggest stage in the sport.

Chris Curtis vs Marc-Andre Barriault

High-level action is expected in the middleweight division as Chris Curtis and Marc-Andre Barriault go head-to-head in Toronto.

Chris Curtis celebrates after knocking out Phil Hawes in their middleweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)
Chris Curtis celebrates after knocking out Phil Hawes in their middleweight fight during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Curtis had a tough year in 2023, dropping a narrow decision to Kelvin Gastelum in April before his UFC 289 scrap with Nassourdine Imavov was halted due to a gnarly cut opened by an accidental clash of heads between the two. Gatineau, Quebec’s Barriault arrives on a two-fight winning streak, having stopped Julian Marquez in March before out-working Eryk Anders in June in Vancouver.

Will Curtis continue to maintain his place in the rankings, or will “Powerbar” finally push through and crack the Top 15?

Arnold Allen vs Movsar Evloev

Talented featherweights looking to take the next step forward towards title contention meet in this one as Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev finally share the Octagon together.

Allen parlayed a 10-0 start in his UFC career into a main event pairing opposite former champ (and honorary Canadian) Max Holloway last April in Kansas City. He dropped a decision, halting his run of success, but showed that he’s capable of hanging with the elite in the division along the way.

Arnold Allen punches Dan Hooker at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by John Barry/Zuffa LLC)
Arnold Allen punches Dan Hooker at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by John Barry/Zuffa LLC)

Evloev continued his undefeated run to begin his career in 2023, pushing his record to 17-0 overall with his seventh UFC victory. The win wasn’t easy to come by, however, as late notice replacement Diego Lopes kicked off his “Rookie of the Year” campaign by pushing the streaking Russian every step of the way, forcing him to defend numerous attacks and work hard to escape with a win.

These two have been at the top of the list of ascending names in the division for some time, but injuries and limited schedules have resulted in slower climbs than others. This is a matchup fans and pundits have been waiting to see for some time, and Saturday night should determine which of them continues moving forward in the 145-pound weight class.

Preliminary Card Fights

Brad Katona vs Garrett Armfield

Brad Katona and Garrett Armfield close out the prelims in what should be an all-action bantamweight battle.

Katona madę history in August by becoming the first person to win two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter when he authored a steely unanimous decision win over Cody Gibson at UFC 292. The Winnipeg native and Dublin resident has fought and won in Toronto before, and will look to kick off his second stint on the roster in style with another win at home this weekend.

Brad Katona talks with Joe Rogan after becoming The Ultimate Fighter for a second time after his three-round war against Cody Gibson at UFC 292 in Boston. 
Brad Katona of Canada reacts after his victory over Cody Gibson in a bantamweight fight during the UFC 292 event at TD Garden on August 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

Armfield got a short notice call-up to the UFC in the summer of 2022, dropping a competitive fight to former amateur rival David Onama at featherweight. Just over a year later, he finally returned to action, returning to bantamweight and showcasing his slick hands in a first-round stoppage win over Toshiomi Kazama in Singapore.

No matter where this one takes place or how it plays out, it should be a competitive, entertaining battle between a pair of bantamweights looking to make their mark in arguably the deepest division in the UFC. Both looked very good last time out — in different ways — and should be pushing hard to build on that momentum here.

Charles Jourdain vs Sean Woodson

Ascending featherweights Charles Jourdain and Sean Woodson meet here in what should be an instructive bout in the 145-pound weight class.

Charles Jourdain in Las Vegas, April 20, 2022 (Photo by Braydon Jackson/Zuffa LLC)

Charles Jourdain in Las Vegas, April 20, 2022 (Photo by Braydon Jackson/Zuffa LLC)


Jourdain makes his first UFC start on Canadian soil riding a two-fight winning streak, having closed out last year with a first-round submission win over Ricardo Ramos. Woodson is unbeaten in four and sports a 10-1 record overall, most recently out-hustling Dennis Buzukja in August.

UFC 297 Breakdown With Brendan Fitzgerald & Sayif Saud

Each man has felt primed to push into the rankings at different points in their respective runs, and the winner of this one should have a very good case for facing a Top 15 opponent next time out.

Serhiy Sidey vs Ramon Taveras

After a controversial stoppage in their DWCS clash last fall, Serhiy Sidey and Ramon Taveras run it back on the UFC 297 prelims this weekend.

Minty Bets | UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis
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Minty Bets | UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis
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Brandishing a 10-1 record and six-fight winning streak, Burlington’s Sidey held gold in a pair of top Canadian regional promotions before his appearance at the UFC APEX in September. The 30-year-old Taveras made quick work of Cortavious Romious in his second DWCS appearance last year to punch his ticket to the UFC and this rematch, moving to 9-2 in the process.

Order UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis

Their first fight was competitive for as long as it lasted, with Taveras sitting down Sidey before the Ukrainian-Canadian scored a knockdown of his own and looked to finish things before the referee stepped in prematurely. Now we get to see them run it back in Toronto and resolve things once and for all.

Gillian Robertson vs Polyana Viana

Veterans Gillian Robertson and Polyana Viana open the televised portion of the prelims on Saturday in what should be a fast-paced strawweight encounter.

Gillian Robertson of Canada reacts after defeating Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at T-Mobile Center on April 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Gillian Robertson of Canada reacts after defeating Piera Rodriguez of Venezuela in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at T-Mobile Center on April 15, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Robertson returned to the division two fights back with a win over Piera Rodriguez but dropped a decision to Tabatha Ricci last time out. Viana enters the contest off a submission loss to Iasmin Lucindo last summer, which halted a run of three wins in her last four outings.

This should be an all-action, grappling-heavy scrap between two mainstays looking to build some consistency in 2024.

Yohan Lainesse vs Sam Patterson

Yohan Lainasse welcomes Sam Patterson to the welterweight division in this intriguing preliminary card scrap.

Yohan Lainesse | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Yohan Lainesse | Dana White’s Contender Series: Next Level
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After reaching the UFC with a pristine 8-0 record, the 31-year-old “White Lion” has gone 1-2 in his first three Octagon appearances, most recently falling to Malott last February. Patterson moves up a division after having his lengthy unbeaten streak halted in his promotional debut last March in London.

WIll Lainesse bounce back on Canadian soil or can Patterson make a statement in his debut in the 170-pound ranks?

Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Priscila Cachoeira

Flyweights residing just outside the rankings, Jasmine Jasudavicius and Priscila Cachoeira clash here in what should be a barnburner early in the night.

Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada poses for a portrait after her victory during the UFC 270 event at Honda Center on January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Jasmine Jasudavicius of Canada poses for a portrait after her victory during the UFC 270 event at Honda Center on January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, CA (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Niagara Top Team’s Jasudavicius earned a pair of quality wins in the first half of 2023 before dropping a competitive decision to the surging Tracy Cortez at Noche UFC in September. Cachoeira only managed one appearance last year, getting stopped by Miranda Maverick at UFC 291 in April, but entered that one off a quick stoppage over Ariane Lipski.

Like all the Ontario-based fighters on the card, this is a big moment for Jasudavicius, so it will be interesting to see if she can rise to the occasion or if her Brazilian counterpart will spoil her homecoming.

Malcolm Gordon vs Jimmy Flick

For the second week in a row, action gets underway in the 125-pound weight class, as Malcolm Gordon takes on Jimmy Flick in the UFC 297 opener.

Malcolm Gordon of Canada poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Malcolm Gordon of Canada poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Fighting out of Adrenaline MMA in London, Gordon looks to snap a two-fight slide in his return to Canada, where he built a quality resume on the regional circuit to garner his chance to compete on the big stage. The 33-year-old Flick ended a brief retirement in 2023, returning to action and suffering consecutive stoppage losses against Charles Johnson and Alessandro Costa.

The flyweights are always entertaining and with these two each having a lot to prove, this one shouldn't be any different.

UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis took place live from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on January 20, 2024. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass