Sean Strickland says he gave a friendly heads-up to middleweight title contender Dricus Du Plessis after their well-known scuffle at UFC 296.
It's not uncommon for fighters to get physical outside the ring, but Strickland's calm request to Gilbert Burns' family to step aside before confronting Du Plessis was a surprising twist.
The two will have a chance to settle the score at UFC 297 in Toronto, and Strickland revealed he messaged Du Plessis afterward, cautioning him not to bring up any issues related to his childhood trauma.
“I actually talked to Dricus after [the brawl],” Strickland explained on The Man Dance. “I actually sent him a f***ing message, and I was like ‘Dude, listen Dricus, we’re gonna go try and murder each other. But if you bring that stuff up again, I will f***ing stab you.’”
Strickland, known for his candid expressions, has been vocal about sharing his experiences of childhood abuse. However, his approach has sparked criticism from some UFC peers who perceive a double standard in using personal matters for trash talk. Du Plessis touched a nerve when he alluded to a "childhood memory" during a press conference with Strickland. Despite this, the UFC middleweight champion appears to have persuaded "Stillknocks" that such remarks could endanger their upcoming fight.
“He f***ing was cool about it. But I mean again, I’m not telling you 'I don’t want to fight you Dricus'….I’m just saying that that’s a line that when crossed, it transcends fighting…If I go to Canada and you bring that up, well guess what - I’m gonna go to jail, they’re gonna deport me. We spent eight weeks of training for no f***ing reason.”
UFC 297 includes a women's bantamweight title fight that could have been the main event if any issues arose with the middleweight headliner. Strickland faced criticism for his comments about the matchup between Mayra Bueno Silva and Raquel Pennington.
As long as nothing disrupts the fight during the week, Strickland will defend his middleweight title for the first time and aim to hand Du Plessis his first UFC loss on January 20 in Toronto.