The first PPV of the 2024 year is here for the UFC and it kicks off with UFC 297, live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Scotiabank Arena. The middleweight title will be defended in the main event between two bitter rivals and in the co-main event, a new queen will take the throne in the women's bantamweight division. Plus so much more.
Last September, the world was shocked to witness Sean Strickland become the new middleweight champion after he dominated and defeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia. But now he must look to defend his gold against Dricus Du Plessis, the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the division who has been eyeing the championship for a very long time and is coming off of a massive win to get his first crack at gold.
In his last five bouts, Strickland has continued to show his improvement in the octagon. Many did not expect him to be in this position after back-to-back losses to the current light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira and Jared Cannonier in 2022. However, Strickland would go on to kick off 2023 with wins over Nassourdine Imavov by unanimous decision and Abusupiyan Magomedov via KO before earning his shot at Adesanya where he was victorious in a massive upset that no one saw coming.
He has had training sessions with the likes of Pereira, his former opponent where both men prepared and took on the champions of their respective divisions before walking out with the gold. Strickland does have an incredible gas tank; he has won thirteen of his fights via decision and has finished 11 opponents in his career.
The challenger, Du Plessis has proven time and time again that his goal of becoming a UFC champion is the number one priority in his life. He made a statement with that goal last July when he extended his seven-fight win streak with a massive KO victory over the former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 in a middleweight title eliminator bout.
Du Plessis was supposed to challenge Adesanya for the gold at UFC 293, but the former champion at the time was not happy about having to wait for Du Plessis to recover from his injuries so he gave the title shot to Strickland which resulted in a new champion being crowned. Du Plessis has only gone the distance once in his career which he won against Brad Tavares, a majority of the wins that Du Plessis has earned have come via knockout or submission.
In the co-main event, Raquel Pennington looks to finally get a hold of a UFC championship as she gets her second crack at the bantamweight championship. The last time she was in this position, it was UFC 224 where she lost to Amanda Nunes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the main event. Since then, Pennington has racked up wins against Irene Aldana, Macy Chiasson, Aspen Ladd, and Ketlen Viera to make her way back to the title picture.
Pennington was the backup fighter at UFC 289 for the last fight of Nunes career where she fought and defeated Aldana to retain the bantamweight gold. Now, Pennington, who is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the division will look to make her dreams come true by capturing her first championship in the UFC.
Raquel Pennington is the underdog for UFC 297
On the other side of the Octagon for Pennington. It'll be Mayra Bueno Silva, the No. 3 ranked bantamweight in the division who will be looking to bring the gold right back to Brazil if she's successful. Three months after Pennington's unsuccessful attempt at taking away the gold from Nunes, it was Silva who would win on Dana White's Contender Series via ninja choke to earn a contract with the UFC. In the last six years, Silva has kept herself active against any challenger who accepts a fight against them.
She has defeated the likes of Gillian Robertson, Wu Yanan, Stephanie Egger and Lina Lansberg to rise her stock to the top and earn her first crack at a UFC championship title. While Pennington is known for her gritty endurance that has brought her many wins via decision, it'll be Silva who looks to add to her submission streak as a majority of her wins have come by that feat.
According to DraftKings. Strickland is the favorite coming into his first defense as the middleweight champion at -122. His opponent, Du Plessis will be coming into his first title bout and second bout as the underdog at +102.
In the co-main, Bueno Silva will be the favorite coming into her first title shot in the UFC at -175. Pennington enters her second shot at the championship as the underdog at +145 for the vacant bantamweight championship.
Also on the main card, Mike Malott looks to make it back-to-back wins in his home of Canada as he comes in as the -345 favorite. On the other side of the octagon will be the leader with the most bouts at welterweight and the most decision wins in UFC history, Neil Magny who enters as the +275 underdog.
Marc-André Barriault will also be on the journey of winning at back-to-back events in Canada for the UFC while also looking to become a ranked fighter by next week. Barriault comes in as the +160 underdog against No. 14 ranked Chris Curtis who comes in as the -192 favorite.
The opener for the main card of UFC 297 will be a featherweight bout between Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev. The No. 9 ranked Evloev will be coming into this fight as the favorite at -205, he has not lost in his career, holding an incredible 17-0 record. In his most recent fight, Allen lost for the first time against Max Holloway after going 10-0 upon signing with the UFC in 2015. Allen comes in as the +170 underdog in the opener of UFC 297.
UFC 297 betting odds
- Sean Strickland (c) (-122) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (+102) for the middleweight championship
- Raquel Pennington (+145) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (-175) for vacant women's bantamweight title
- Neil Magny (+275) vs. Mike Malott (-345)
- Chris Curtis (-192) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (+160)
- Arnold Allen (+170) vs. Movsar Evloev (-205)
- Brad Katona (-192) vs. Garrett Armfield (+154)
- Charles Jourdain (-205) vs. Sean Woodson (+170)
- Serhiy Sidey (-185) vs. Ramon Taveras (+154)
- Gillian Robertson (-290) vs. Polyana Viana (+235)
- Yohan Lainesse (-148) vs. Sam Patterson (+124)
- Jasmine Jasudavicius (-380) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (+300)
- Malcolm Gordon (-205) vs. Jimmy Flick (+170)
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.