Dricus Du Plessis overcame a swollen left eye to become the UFC middleweight champion at UFC 297 in Toronto.
Du Plessis defeated Sean Strickland by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48), marking a historic moment as the first South African UFC champion.
Despite Strickland's strong jab, Du Plessis fought back, with the third round being a turning point in the match.
Du Plessis caused significant damage in the fourth round, opening a big gash on Strickland's face with an elbow and securing multiple takedowns.
Entering the fifth round with momentum, Du Plessis faced a resilient Strickland, who connected with combinations in the final minutes.
The judges favored Du Plessis, ending the fight that had previous animosity from UFC 296.
Strickland, disappointed after his belt-winning upset against Israel Adesanya, may seek a rematch, but Du Plessis eyes Adesanya for his next challenge.
Du Plessis called out Adesanya, saying, "Israel Adesanya, get your ass back in the UFC so we can settle the score."
Another potential opponent for Du Plessis is Khamzat Chimaev, who expressed interest in appearing at UFC 300.