Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

SA rugby boss Rassie Erasmus leads congratulations for Dricus du Plessis

The South African beat Sean Strickland by split decision in their fight in Toronto.

South Africa’s newest world champion, Dricus du Plessis, has been congratulated by his countrymen after he beat Sean Strickland for the UFC middleweight title in Toronto on Sunday.

The 30-year-old Du Plessis won by split decision after five rounds and besides whatever he banks from the win, he will also pocket $50,000 for being involved in the fight of the night at UFC297.

South Africa’s director of rugby and World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus led the way soon after the fight as he congratulated Du Plessis in an X (Twitter) post.

In Afrikaans he wrote: “Dricus we are all very proud of you. Thank you for what you do for South Africa (flag). You’re an absolute warrior. You fight a lonely sport without a lot of support, but you did it. Enjoy the celebrations, you deserve it, Lekka.”

Former Bok player and now analyst and commentator, Breyton Paulse, said on X: “Dricus du Plessis, champion of the world, Yes Baby. Hulle weet nie wat weet nie, super trots, go you good thing.”

Also, Ox Nche, of the Springboks’ World Cup winning team from 2023, posted a picture on X of Du Plessis, after being crowned champion, while comedian Rory Petzer pointed out that a South African had again won a world title by one point, following the Boks’ three successive one-point victories in France late last year to win the World Cup for a fourth time.

The Boks beat France 29-28 in the quarter-finals, they beat England 16-15 in the semi-finals and beat New Zealand 12-11 in the final.

On Sunday Du Plessis beat Strickland 48-47 in the decisive call.

“All we ever need is one point,” tweeted Petzer.

Sports minister Zizi Kodwa also made a statement, congratulating Du Plessis: “I congratulate Dricus on the remarkable achievement of being the first South African to be crowned UFC champion.

“It has been particularly special to see South Africans unite in their diversity to support their own, as Du Plessis made history.”

The UFC organisation said: “The belt is going to South Africa” while former Olympic champion Ryk Neethling said: “A South African hero and legend, Baie geluk aan sy familie en span (Congratulations to his family and team). Ongelooflik (Unbelievable).”

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