Chael Sonnen believes Dricus du Plessis won every round against Sean Strickland

Chael Sonnen believes that not only did Dricus du Plessis beat Sean Strickland fair and square, but that it wasn’t particularly close.

This past Saturday, du Plessis and Strickland battled it out in the main event of UFC 297 with the middleweight title on the line. After a competitive bout, du Plessis took home a split decision win to claim the belt. In the aftermath, a number of fans and Strickland himself claimed robbery, but Sonnen believes that’s ridiculous.

“I don’t hide my bias. I try to be impartial [but] I’m a human being,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel. “So when I have a bias, I disclose it to you guys. I disclose it and then I still try to be impartial. So I’m cheering for Sean. … We lost every round. We lost every round of the fight.

“There was even a hope spot. The hope spot came in the form of commentary from Dominick Cruz. Dominick Cruz was quickly dismissed by Jon Anik — who was right to dismiss him. What Dominick said was, ‘Don’t forget, this is damage. Yes, du Plessis is pressuring him. Yes, du Plessis is picking what range they fight in. He’s the only one wrestling tonight. Yes, du Plessis is touching him more with hands and feet, but that’s not the criteria. The criteria is damage.’ I added a lot to Dominick’s words there. He said, ‘If you look at the damage, I think Strickland is winning the fight.’

“That’s what we call a hope spot. That’s where I get a little bit of hope going, but then Jon correct Dom … ‘Hey, that’s not within the rules. That isn’t solely how it works when you’re looking at a 10-9 must system.’ … End of the fight comes, and the fifth round I give to Strickland. Now, when I say I give to Strickland, I am making a prediction about what I believe the judges are going to do. … I tell you that because, when I tell you that Strickland won the fifth round, I’m not positive he did. It was very close. It was his best round. I don’t think he did, but he might have.”

Following UFC 297, other MMA figures also defended du Plessis’s win, but Sonnen’s belief that du Plessis swept all the rounds is not widely held. The two judges who scored the fight for du Plessis only gave him three rounds. But Sonnen stands by his opinion, though he did offer a possible reason why he was so off from the consensus.

“In my heart, I think it was 5-0,” Sonnen said. “With a real bias towards Strickland, it was 5-0, and an absolute best case 4-1. And I think the crowd, for the most part, agreed with me. … It seemed like they had no problem with the scores. I was stunned when it was a split decision. And I’m not like most guys, ‘I just want a good, fair adjudication.’ I don’t. I want my guy to win. I don’t care if it’s by hook or crook. I don’t mind that at all. So if we’re going to steal one from du Plessis, and hang our hat on what Dominick Cruz said, ‘Hey we got outworked, out-pressured, backed up the whole time, didn’t control where the fight happened, even though we did that, we busted your face up more than you busted ours,’ I’m in! I’ll drink to that. Let’s move on with our day.

“So when one [scorecard] came in for Strickland, I was surprised. Now, my biggest surprise was that when all was said and done, Joe Rogan, definitely qualifies as an expert in the space, Dana White, definitely qualifies as an expert in the space — both had Strickland. Did we watch the same thing? Joe Rogan and Dana are very interesting … they have one thing in common, one thing different than me: I heard the commentary and they didn’t. And I’m just wondering if I got influenced. I’m wondering. I didn’t feel that. I didn’t feel influenced.”

Despite believing that du Plessis swept the card, Sonnen still thinks an immediate rematch could be in the offering, saying that du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya is probably next, but that there is still a window for Strickland to step in.

“It changes everything, the fact that there’s controversy on that fight, the fact that one official judge, not to mention the highest ranking, most respected judge of the evening had it for Strickland. What do you do with that?” Sonnen said. “Because in a normal circumstance, you would give real consideration to rematching that. We’re not in a normal situation. We’re in an abnormal situation where UFC 300 is coming up and we’ve already seen the heat that Izzy and du Plessis can generate.

“That’s the fight they’re trying to make. Right now, behind the scenes, that’s the fight they’re trying to get done for 300. And I’m wondering, in light of what we know now, is that the right fight? Because don’t forget, we’re not going by rankings, we’re going to pretend we’re going by rankings. We’re not going by achievement, we’re going to pretend we’re going by achievement. We’re going by one thing: Which fight is bigger? Which fight do you guys want to see more?”

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