The build up to Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis’ potential Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title fight could get even uglier. And don’t expect UFC President, Dana White, to do anything about it.
That’s just fine when it comes to former “Triple Champ,” Henry Cejudo.
Du Plessis’ big second round technical knockout upset win over Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 (watch highlights) was more than enough to earn him his first championship opportunity. Sitting cageside, Adesanya — UFC reigning 185-pound kingpin — entered the Octagon to confront his next challenger, leading to a flurry of racially-charged words being hurled toward Du Plessis along with a “26 And Me” joke (watch it).
Reactions to the pair's back-and-forths have been relatively mixed before the faceoff and remain that way afterward. Known for his “King of Cringe” moniker and silly verbal jabs, Cejudo — a former UFC Flyweight and Bantamweight champion — broke down whether or not a line was crossed between the elite-level Middleweights.
“How far is too far? How far should we take things?” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “I’m gonna go back and think of what Floyd Mayweather has done, what Conor McGregor has done, what Mike Tyson did in the ‘90s. Getting his (Tyson’s) advice in front of Khabib [Nurmagomedov], and he said, ‘You know what, Henry. Everything goes.’
“In other words, guys, I ain’t mad at it,” he continued. “At this point, anybody and anybody should say anything despite color, race, or creed. If you guys want my honest opinion, everything goes. Whether you’re dead or alive, whether you hate or love. If you’re in this fight game and if that man can play this art of war through your mind and it’s all about winning then it is what it is.”
More of a character spawned post-title victory, Cejudo’s trash talk has been more intentionally goofy than serious and volatile. Regardless, “Triple C” has backed it up more often than not, but will have to rebound off a split decision loss to current Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, in his next time out.
“The person that’s going to have to live with what they’ve said is the perpetrator,” Cejudo said. “The person who said it. So, Israel Adesanya a lot of times, I may come off as a hater — maybe just a little bit — but I guess everything goes. At this point, Dana White says whatever he wants.
“S***, I say whatever I want,” he concluded. “At one point, I was challenging women. It made it all [in] the New York Times, Washington Post. To me, it’s just about me being comical.”
No date has been confirmed as of yet for Adesanya vs. Du Plessis, but UFC 293 on Sept. 10, 2023, in Sydney, Australia, has been the rumored target date since the event was announced.