South African Dricus du Plessis beat the USA’s Sean Strickland in Saturday’s middleweight title fight at UFC 297 in Toronto, Canada.

The final result was a split decision – 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 – for du Plessis. He has become the first South African to win a UFC title.

“When they said, ‘and new,’ it felt like 15 years of work, dreaming and sacrificing came together in one single sentence,” said du Plessis.

“It was incredible, it feels surreal. Amazing. This is history.

“It feels like somebody hits you with a rock. It’s very deceptive when Strickland throws the jab, and he can turn it into a left hook. He does that really, really well. Who says I’m not a five-round fighter?”

UFC chief executive officer Dana White confirmed Strickland landed 173 significant strikes to du Plessis’ 137.

“I had it 2-2 going into the last round and I thought Strickland won the last round,” said White.

“Guys who were sitting at the same table as me had it going the other way. But I’m also a guy who believes you have to take it from the champion.”