UFC 276 will host a number of exciting matchups for fans straight from Las Vegas, Nevada. One of which will be taking place in the middleweight division between long-time division staple Brad Tavares and the quickly rising Dricus Du Plessis.
Tavares, a fighter on the UFC roster since 2010 has fought the who’s who of MMA. Holding wins over fighters like Lorenz Larkin, Nate Marquardt, and Thales Leites. He has even further played the role of one-half of each fight against current and former champions Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero, so needless to say the advantage in experience is heavily in his court. Most recently Tavares earned a pair of wins over Omari Akhmedov and Antonio Carlos Jr., two men who are currently making waves amongst the best of PFL.
Tavares’s 20 UFC bouts loom large over Du Plessis’ two, but the young South African stand-out maintains he is more than ready for any challenge. With a total record of 16-2, his record is mostly made up of a dominant run in EFC, before becoming a KSW champion in 2018. After a brief return to EFC in 2019 to secure his spot in the UFC, Du Plessis then strung together wins over Markus Perez and Trevin Giles to solidify a perfect finishing rate inside the octagon.
UFC 276 is a PPV event and will stream only on
Du Plessis will enter as the betting favorite at UFC 276 with odds of -125 against Tavares who is listed at +100.
Dricus Du Plessis comes from a kickboxing base. He utilizes a high guard and a high pace. While he often switches stances, his primary means of entry is a rare sort of sprint entry, similar to the tactic Jorge Masvidal used against Darren Till, but Du Plessis will start it surprisingly far out. It’s an unusual way to bridge the gap, and it’s powerful as a means to generate power or drive his opponents back to the fence over a large distance but he is caught with his chin up as he darts in from time to time. The most prominent strike in his fights tends to be his right hand, and if he finds it difficult to land flush and exit with his sprint, he does find success working on the counter as well.
His leg kicks are also an important weapon and he lands often but at the same time leaving his head on the centreline while doing so has gotten him in trouble. However, if he can draw out a reaction from his kicks, such as getting Tavares to plant on the rear leg to check, his darting movements then have a greater chance of catching Tavares stationary.
In terms of grappling, Du Plessis is not as comfortable as he is on the feet. He has good takedowns but tends to shoot the double and finish on the single leg. The problem with this is it’s a difficult task to find someone more adept at defending single legs in MMA than Brad Tavares. Tavares may very well choose to contend with Du Plessis on the feet as striking is also his usual chosen means of fighting, however it is well-roundedness that makes him most threatening. Tavares typically sticks to the basics, his jab cross is a consistent weapon. He is also great at using his jab to draw in the counter so as to lean back or parry to land the right. However, those who have been able to double up on the lead jab or hooks have been able to catch him while he is stuck on the back foot trying to slip away.
On the feet it is a very contentious bout, on the mat as stated before, Du Plessis’ primary type of takedown is exactly what Tavares is a master at defending. For Tavares, we rarely see him go to his wrestling unless prompted. If Du Plessis fails on a shot, we may see Tavares reverse it, end on top and hammer away, however. In top position the same base that allows him to stay standing even when his opponent is deep into a shot allows him to maintain a good base on top and worry about ground and pound. His lack of upper body control relative to his striking does allow some space to return to the feet but he is usually happy with doing as much damage as he can before resetting at striking range anyway.
I believe the big difference in this fight will be experience. Both men have shown very good performances all round in the UFC, but Tavares has shown that level of impressiveness against some of the best. I think both will have success on their feet, and so the one who is able to adapt and pull out different looks will then start to gain traction down the line. If Du Plessis finds himself shooting as a plan B, I don’t see him finishing it and I do see Tavares reversing position, or if the two have a competitive kickboxing match, as time goes on a see Tavares maintaining his fluidity and composure to a greater extent.
Prediction: Brad Tavares to win (+100 odds at BetUS)
UFC 276 is a PPV event and will stream only on
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.