Sean Strickland Blames Headbutt For Changing the Trajectory of His UFC 297 Title Fight: ‘Sucks to Lose That Way’

Sean Strickland

Sean Strickland thought he got the job done at UFC 297.

Stepping into his first middleweight title defense, Strickland and his South African opposition, Dricus Du Plessis, delivered an entertaining five-round scrap that saw ‘DDP’ escape with a razor-close split decision. Following the fight, Strickland took to social media and seemingly blamed an illegal headbutt for changing the course of the contest.

“Well f*ck haha… man that headbutt really made it difficult to see but I thought we got the job done,” Strickland wrote on X. “Blood and all!!! Onto the next one!!! Thanks everyone who supported me!!!!!!

He echoed a similar sentiment on Instagram.

“Big thanks to everyone who supported me!!!!!!!!! Took a headbutt that split open my eye, took a couple rounds to adjust to the blood running in my eyes,” Strickland wrote. “Sucks to lose that way but this is the game! I thought I won even not being able to see out of my left eye but that’s life! Onto the next! Told you I’d bleed for you!!!!!!”

Dana White had Sean Strickland Winning the UFC 297 Headliner

Strickland was not alone in his belief that he did enough to leave The Great White North with his middleweight title intact. UFC CEO Dana White revealed that he had scored the bout in favor of Strickland while addressing members of the media, as did longtime commentator Joe Rogan who live-streamed his immediate reaction to the somewhat controversial decision.

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Du Plessis was asked about the alleged infraction during the evening’s post-fight press conference, where he answered that he was not aware of any foul, accidental or otherwise.

“No, I can’t say that I did,” Du Plessis said. “It’s the first time I’m hearing of it. No, I didn’t feel a head butt during the fight. … No, I can’t remember any head butt.”

The loss snapped Strickland’s three-fight win streak, which included his dominant performance against former two-time titleholder Israel Adesanya in September. Du Plessis moved to 7-0 inside the Octagon and has now won his last nine in a row.