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The Middleweight division plays host to a pivotal contest between Brad Tavares and Dricus Du Plessis. Returning to the octagon for the first time in 2022, Tavares comes into this bout on a two-fight win streak. Battling inactivity, this will be Tavares’ fifth fight in the last four years. Despite that, Tavares is still ranked eleventh and has an opportunity to crack the top ten with a victory. Meanwhile, Du Plessis has stormed into the UFC with back-to-back first round finishes. Seeing four fight cancellations momentarily halt his momentum, the South African comes into this fight still with a golden chance. One that would see his name among the top fifteen of the division with a victory.
After the debacle of UFC 273, that saw three separate fighters pull out against Du Plessis, the South African has to be chomping at the bit to get back in the octagon. Luckily too, it comes against a ranked foe. A former K-1 kickboxer, Du Plessis has showed off quickness, power, wrestling and good combinations. What he hasn’t showed off due to the nature of starching two opponents in round one, is his submission ability. Given nine of his sixteen wins have come by such, perhaps in due time we will see it come to light. Just not in this fight. Tavares has a solid base and is notably hard to takedown. A striker, Tavares doesn’t pack a punch as some might think. His striking is very fundamental, and backed by good cardio, has led the Hawaiian to outpointing many foes. In fact, Tavares is the all-time leader in the Middleweight division with twelve decision victories.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Du Plessis. While the South African came into the UFC with notably defensive issues, thus far, they have been relatively mitigated by the fact that he is stopping his foes inside the first round. Impressively I might add. The reason however why I like Du Plessis in this fight, is that despite his flaws, Tavares isn’t the one to capitalize on them. In his twenty UFC fights, the Hawaiian has only two knockout victories. In his last twelve fights, he has only landed three takedowns. With the concern level lowered, I believe Du Plessis will be able to get off his offense and eventually knock Tavares out.