It’s a gray area as to who started the bad blood between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and top contender Dricus Du Plessis, but “Stillknocks” is looking to step away as far as possible from the racially-charged tension.
Adesanya and Du Plessis had exchanged some serious trash talk leading up to UFC 290 earlier this month, but after DDP sparked Robert Whittaker to earn a knockout stoppage the two finally came face-to-face inside of the cage. To much surprise, Adesanya launched a vulgar attack on Du Plessis complete with racial slurs (watch HERE). Du Plessis had little to say as he looked “Last Stylebender” in the face and let him finish his shocking tirade.
Adesanya’s reasoning for the racially-charged outburst stems from a comment made by Du Plessis a while back about becoming the first true African champion. Du Plessis was born in Africa, resides in Africa, and trains in Africa, but his comment left a bad taste in the mouth of other African fighters like Adesanya.
While some people are blaming Du Plessis for his initial viewpoint the middleweight contender is now hoping to separate himself from any race-related issues. Du Plessis was surprised to hear Adesanya speak the way he did at UFC 290 and is hoping the champion leads a better example moving forward.
“There’s people looking up to you as champion, I believe, and that was my statement afterward, saying, ‘You behaved like a child and a clown, behave like a man.’ You are an example to people all over the world,” explained Du Plessis during a recent appearance on Cameron Saaiman’s YouTube channel. “One of the biggest stars in sports. Not only in this sport, in sports. So, he talked about the vibe somewhere in this whole saga but doing something going with racial slurs does not belong in sports. It doesn’t belong in the world, in my opinion. I do not want that a part of anything that I’m doing.
“This sport is so amazing and has given so many people so much things, and bringing [in] race, color, with racial slurs, all of that stuff, immediately made me like, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this.’ That’s why I just walked away. I’m not gonna engage in that. That is not the example I want to set for people. That is not what my message to anybody in the world is. I guess he can do whatever he wants. Dana [White] said it. He can say whatever he wants. He can. I’m just not entertaining that. I’m not entertaining any talk about the racial slurs that he’s been using.”
If there was any positives to take from his in-cage altercation with Adesanya it’s the fact that Du Plessis has now felt the champion’s energy inside of the Octagon. Du Plessis feels that should give him a leg up when the two finally meet.
“He was drunk, I guess. I hope so for his part,” Du Plessis said. “They (White and Hunter Campbell) were just like, ‘Is this a good idea?’ Because they didn’t want to take the moment away from myself and Rob, which I understand but it didn’t feel like that to me. To me, it felt like, ‘Give me my next target.’ I said it before, I hoped he’d get in that cage because he’ll feel my energy when I’m in that cage. He’s gonna see how big I am in that cage. Now I’ve seen him in that cage and I felt his energy.
“There’s only one time you see your opponent in a cage and that’s when you fight him. Now I’ve seen him before the fight. Now I’ve felt what he feels like in the cage and my man is in trouble, I’ll tell you that. And he knows it. You can feel that energy. Especially that energy that you’re feeling after you’ve just knocked out Robert Whittaker.”