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UFC 297: For Dricus du Plessis, the time for talk is over

South African MMA star Dricus du Plessis has his eye on the prize ahead of his blockbuster UFC title fight against Sean Strickland this Saturday.

UFC middleweight champion Strickland will face an opponent like no other at UFC 297 in Toronto, where in du Plessis aims to be crowned South Africa's first UFC champion.

The build-up has been spicy. Du Plessis hit a nerve when he brought up Strickland's abusive father into the verbal jabs in a press conference in December. What followed was their cage-side brawl at UFC 296, which resulted in Strickland leaving the arena.

"Some things are off limits," said Stickland - who often crosses the line with his own candid comments - in the fallout after the brawl.

Reflecting on the verbal sparring with combat sports aficionado Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour this week, du Plessis revealed he had no regrets about his actions. 

"The hypocrisy - that was the one area where people could lose respect for Sean Strickland, because he's always unapologetically himself," said the 30-year-old.

"But as soon as he got his own medicine, as soon as he was on the receiving end for the very first time, when I got on that mic, we saw him backpedal and try to play for sympathy. He wanted sympathy. He was acting like he had that victim mentality immediately. You can't do that if you say the things you say. 

"Talking about people who can't dodge busses on a fighter who died. Is that not over the line? You, Mr. Moral Compass, doesn'y decide where the line is. He doesn't have the right to decide where that line is. Now, all of a sudden, the line is where he wants it to be? No. I don't think so."

Previewing their next face-off at the impending pre-fight presser, du Plessis was confident he could deal with whatever words Strickland throws at him. More importantly, the Pretoria native added that his focus has shifted to the fight itself rather than the pre-fight smokeshow. 

"I'll be ready for whatever he tries with me," continued the Team CIT fighter.

"When I go to these press conferences, I never plan, 'Oh, I'm going to say this, say that!' That's not the way. It's on the spot. I think it’s going to be a lot more civil, but maybe he comes out guns blazing, who knows? 

"But I think it will be a lot more civil because in my mind, that first press conference was joking around. That was me having a lot of fun. I'm not in that zone anymore. I'm in the fight zone now. I'm ready to go. I'm here to win a world title. I'm not here to make jokes. I'm here to be a world champion."

READ MORE: UFC 297 - Full card and start time as Sean Strickland battles Dricus du Plessis in heated title bout

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