Dricus du Plessis reacts to Sean Strickland’s emotional interview: ‘You’re just a hypocrite’

Dricus du Plessis is unmoved by Sean Strickland’s comments since their press conference showdown.

The two middleweights have caused quite the commotion ahead of their Jan. 20 meeting at UFC 297 for Strickland’s UFC middleweight title. Du Plessis and Strickland nearly came to blows in their first face-to-face when the South African contender invoked Strickland’s childhood trauma and promised, “You think your dad beat the s*** out of you? Your dad doesn’t have s*** on me … every childhood memory you have is going to come back when I’m in there with you.” One day later, tensions rose even further when Strickland vaulted over a row of seats at the T-Mobile Arena to attack du Plessis in a chaotic scene at UFC 296.

Strickland ultimately addressed the situation in an emotional interview on This Past Weekend with Theo Von. The UFC champ tearfully recounted the horrific abuse he suffered as a child and condemned du Plessis for comments he felt should’ve been “off limits.”

Du Plessis responded Friday in an interview with MMA On Point.

“I didn’t watch [Strickland’s comments] and I don’t think I will,” du Plessis said. “Watching a grown man cry in an interview, it’s not really my watch material that I go and watch. But it is it is what it is. I’m glad he cried and he got it out. I hope that’s the end of that.

“I think we give him a lot more credit than he deserves in terms of mindset. I don’t think he thinks about anything. I think he goes out there and he fights, he fights the way Sean Strickland fights. He always has and he’s an incredible fighter. I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter. I think he’s incredible. Do I think he’s a hypocrite? One-hundred percent. One-hundred percent. Obviously childhood trauma is something you can’t help, but if you know what it feels like to be the one on the receiving end of such trauma, don’t inflict it on others, because that’s exactly what he does. So yes, I feel bad for him and I don’t think any kid deserves that, ever.”

Strickland, 32, has been open regarding the alleged abuse he suffered as a child. He said he often feared that his father would murder his mother and recounted an incident in which he called the police after his father allegedly attacked his mother as Strickland hid under the bed in the same room. In recalling his past trauma with Von, a tearful Strickland had to pause several times to gather himself before continuing with the interview.

The UFC middleweight champion has not been shy to go below the belt in attacking other fighters in the past, however, so du Plessis indicated that he has no remorse for giving Strickland what he believes to be a taste of the American’s own medicine.

“If you go after other people, eventually they’re going to come after you,” du Plessis said. “And I think he’s used to being the bully and he’s not used to being bullied. But I don’t have to hammer on that. I already won that fight, I won that press conference. I don’t want to keep on hammering on the same thing. Yes, he cried on Theo Von’s podcast. I guess it was terrible, and like I said, no kid deserves that. No kid deserves to go through that. But if you want to dish it out, you better take it. And like I said, I have mad respect for him as a fighter, even as a person. He’s always been a straight-up guy. Even the fact that he tried to fight me in the crowd, that was him being a man.

“What I’m saying is, if you want to dish it out, be able to take it, man, or you’re just a hypocrite. You didn’t deserve that as a kid, but as a grown man, you dish it out, you’re going to get it. That is the way the world works, unfortunately. And like I said, with this mindset going to this fight, I think he’s going to come out and fight the way Sean Strickland fights. My mindset, I don’t care about him. I care about me, what I do, what I go out there to do, and that is become the world champion.

“Whether he’s angry, whether he’s not, does he have motivation — I see everybody talking about Sean Strickland having muscle now,” du Plessis continued. “Well, welcome to being a professional. I’ve had it my whole career. Nice, you have abs for the first time, I’m really happy for you. But that’s what you should look like as a professional athlete. Good job. I’m really happy that I can motivate you get some abs. But it doesn’t bother me. Good luck with those abs, I’ve been fighting with mine for years.”

Du Plessis’ remarks at the kickoff press conference infamously came just one day after Colby Covington drew the ire of Leon Edwards by insulting his deceased father ahead of UFC 296. Many have since linked the two situations and questioned where the line should be in pre-fight trash talk, however du Plessis does not believe the comparison is fair.

“I don’t agree with what Colby did. Talking about somebody’s dead family, that is 100 percent stepping over a line, 100 percent,” du Plessis said.

“It’s not something to be taken lightly, and definitely not something to be joked about. Now when I said what I said about Sean Strickland, I didn’t joke about it. I spoke the truth, because he’s been very outspoken about it. He spoke about it. He was making jokes about it. I was never joking about it. I just stated facts. I never joked about it, not once.”

UFC 297 takes place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Strickland and du Plessus meet in a five-round championship showdown in the main event.

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