UFC 297 marks the UFC’s return to Toronto, ON, Canada for the first time since 2018, and the promotion has brought two title fights and one of its most controversial stars to the Great White North.

In the main event of Saturday’s showdown at the ScotiaBank Arena/ACC, Sean Strickland, who set off a firestorm of controversy at Wednesday’s media day, faces Dricus Du Plessis, a surging South African and former KSW champ.

Strickland’s knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time was on full display when he lambasted a reporter for daring to question him on past homophobic remarks, all while the middleweight champ had a handle present to ensure he didn’t let slip any homophobic slurs. What amounted to a PR nightmare followed with the CBC, usually good for a fluffy piece on local Canadian fighters competing, instead trashing the PPV card’s quality and questioning Dana White’s claims of a sellout.

None of that should really detract from the quality of the fights themselves, however. While UFC 297 might lack the star power of previous Toronto cards headlined by Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, and Max Holloway, a grudge match has been brewing between Strickland and Du Plessis. The UFC were quick to capitalize on footage of a brawl between the two in the stands at UFC 296, though Strickland, as usual, took things way across the line when he threatened to stab the challenger before they ever entered the cage.

Welcome to Strickland-land, folks.

Vastly overshadowed by the antics of the headliner at UFC 297 has been the night’s co-main event, with the vacant women’s bantamweight title on the line between perennial contender Raquel Pennington and Brazil’s Mayra Bueno Silva. MBS was asked more about Julianna Pena than she was about Pennington this past week, but don’t let that narrative fool you, as she has consistently stated her focus is on “Rocky.”

Our picks for a potentially volatile UFC 297 main card are in, and there’s just one lock on the night! Check them out below.

Writer / FightAllen vs. EvloevBarriault vs. CurtisMalott vs. MagnyPennington vs. Bueno SilvaStrickland vs. Du Plessis
Jamie Theodosi (3-1)
Chris Prawdzik (3-1)
Jay Anderson (3-1)
Cade Morehouse (3-1)
Eddie Law (3-1)
Alex Behunin (2-2)
Patrick McCorry (2-2)
Val Dewar (1-3)
Dylan Rush (0-0)
Dylan Napoleone (0-0)

The only unanimous selection among a full 10 writers responding this week is Canadian welterweight Mike Malott. Our entire crew sees the local hero, who grew up right down the highway from Toronto in Burlington, ON, getting his hand raised over Neil Magny.

Movsar Evloev and Chris Curtis were both heavily favored in their main card fights, however. Things were much closer for the co-main and main events; for Strickland versus Du Plessis, we have the champ retaining by a 6-4 margin.