The first UFC pay-per-view card of 2024 features a middleweight title fight in the main event as champion Sean Strickland makes his first defense against top-rated challenger Dricus du Plessis at UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis. Their five-round showdown tops the main UFC 297 fight card starting at 10 p.m. ET from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Strickland became the champion on the strength of one of the biggest UFC title-fight upsets in recent memory when he outdueled formerly dominant champion Israel Adesanya and won a unanimous decision at UFC 293 in September. Du Plessis is a former champion in two promotions who worked his way through the UFC rankings by winning his first six fights with the promotion, with five coming by stoppage.
Strickland is a -130 betting favorite (risk $130 to win $100), while du Plessis is priced at +110 in the latest UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis odds. In the co-main event, the vacant women’s bantamweight title is at stake when Mayra Bueno Silva (-175) takes on Raquel Pennington (+150). Before locking in any picks for UFC 297, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Daniel Vithlani.
From breaking down film and following fighters and their camps closely, to tracking sharp action and betting market signals, Vithlani covers the breadth of the MMA betting landscape top to bottom. He also trains amateur boxers and speaks regularly with MMA fighters to understand the sport’s nuances.
Vithlani made his SportsLine debut last January of last year and swept the main card for UFC 283 with a 5-0 record and has been a consistent winner ever since. At UFC 292 in August, he predicted the upset for underdog Sean O’Malley (+210) against Aljamain Sterling (-250) in the bantamweight championship main event. Anyone who has followed Vithlani already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis in sight, Vithlani has studied the card from top to bottom and released his top picks and best bets. You can only see those picks at SportsLine.
UFC 297: Strickland vs. Du Plessis preview
Just a few short months ago, this matchup for the middleweight title would have been among the least-expected for MMA observers. Coincidentally, their divergent paths over the past year led to their meeting in Saturday’s main event.
The bombastic Strickland (28-5) was climbing the rankings behind a six-fight winning streak before he was knocked out by Alex Pereira in a title eliminator in July 2022. This was followed by a split-decision loss to veteran contender Jared Cannonier that had seemingly relegated Strickland to the role of middleweight top-10 gatekeeper.
Meanwhile, du Plessis (20-2) was surging up the ranks behind a string of stoppage wins against notable contenders. The South African’s upset knockout of former champion Robert Whittaker set the stage for a showdown with Adesanya, with whom there had been a budding rivalry.
But du Plessis was unable to make UFC 293 because of a foot injury, and the promotion turned to Strickland in large part because he was the only notable contender who Adesanya hadn’t already faced and defeated. Strickland was a nearly 7/1 underdog but used his brawling style to overwhelm Adesanya, nearly finishing the fight in the first round before capturing a dominant unanimous decision.
Strickland was immediately matched for his first defense against du Plessis and, what started as a respectful interaction between the fighters, soon went off the charts with drama. At the UFC’s “seasonal” press conference in December in which future fights are promoted, Strickland and du Plessis engaged in a memorable war of words. Just a few days later, they brawled in the stands at UFC 296 in Las Vegas, with UFC president Dana White later accepting blame for having the combatants seated just a row away from each other. You can see more UFC 297 picks at SportsLine.
UFC 297 predictions
We’ll share one of Vithlani’s UFC 297 selections here: He is going with Gillian Robertson (-245) to get the better of Polyana Viana (+200) in a women’s bantamweight showdown on the preliminary card.
Robertson (12-8) is a seven-year UFC veteran and submission specialist who has faced some of the division’s biggest names. She has won three of her past five but is coming off a decision loss to Tabatha Ricci last June.
Viana (13-6) is a versatile fighter and former Jungle FC champion who has struggled to find traction in the UFC, going 4-5 in nine appearances. She is looking to bounce back from a submission loss to Jasmin Lucindo last August.
“Robertson is a high-level grappler and, if she can get the fight to the floor, she will take over,” vithlani told SportsLine. You can see more UFC 297 picks at SportsLine.
How to make UFC 297 picks
Vithlani has strong picks for Strickland vs. du Plessis and other bouts on the UFC Fight Night card. He’s also backing a fighter who “feels like the more dominant fighter” to emerge with a dominant victory. Those picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins UFC 297: Strickland vs. du Plessis, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on UFC 297, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.
UFC 297 odds, fight card
See full UFC 297 picks, predictions, best bets here.
Dricus du Plessis (+110) vs. Sean Strickland (-130)
Raquel Pennington (+150) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (-175)
Mike Malott (-345) vs. Neil Magny (+275)
Chris Curtis (-195) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (+160)
Arnold Allen (+165) vs. Movsar Evloev (-195)
Brad Katona (-190) vs. Garrett Armfield (+160)
Charles Jourdain (-190) vs. Sean Woodson (+160)
Serhiy Sidey (-175) vs. Ramon Tavares (+145)
Gillian Robertson (-245) vs. Polyana Viana (+200)
Jasmine Jasudavicius (-360) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (+285)