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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Farah Hannoun

Robert Whittaker: Dricus Du Plessis ‘wanted it more’ than Sean Strickland at UFC 297, outcome not controversial

Robert Whittaker disagrees with the notion that there’s controversy surrounding the UFC 297 headliner.

Dricus Du Plessis (21-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) edged out Sean Strickland (28-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) by split decision to claim the middleweight title Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The likes of UFC CEO Dana White and Joe Rogan had Strickland winning, but Whittaker scored Rounds 2,3,4 and 5 for Du Plessis. He credits Du Plessis for outlasting Strickland in a battle that left both fighters marked up.

“I don’t know why it’s controversial,” Whittaker said on his MMArcade Podcast. “I’ve seen a lot of other fighters and even Dana White himself saying he didn’t think he won the fight. In my opinion, I thought he won the fight. I don’t like blurring the lines, but I will say congratulations to Dricus because he wanted it. … I said he’s a big, strong guy, and he’s awkward as hell to fight.

“But one of his things is he goes out on his shield. He’s not going to go away. He will not give up. He’ll need to leave that octagon on a stretcher, and that’s exactly what he did. That’s exactly what he showed. I will say congratulations to the new champ because he wanted it more.”

Whittaker’s (25-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) most recent loss came to Du Plessis by TKO at UFC 290 in what was considered a big upset. The former champion admits he underestimated Du Plessis.

“Seeing that fight from him, it made me realize that I did not prepare adequately for him,” Whittaker said. “I did not give him the respect he deserved. I understand he was a hard and tough fighter, but I don’t think I understood how tough and strong and hungry he really was, and respect to that. I won’t make that mistake again.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.

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