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UFC 290’s Robert Whittaker: Dricus Du Plessis is ‘most dangerous fight to date’

A shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight gold hangs in the balance at UFC 290 this weekend (Sat., July 8, 2023).

Former divisional kingpin, Robert Whittaker, is set to make his return against South Africa’s Dricus Du Plessis at the International Fight Week event. A win for either man is expected to earn them the next crack at reigning 185-pound champion, Israel Adesanya, later in the year.

Du Plessis will head into the bout as a sizable underdog currently at +285 odds with the mixed martial arts (MMA) world collectively counting him out. Whittaker, however, is doing the opposite for that very reason.

LIVE! Watch UFC 293 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

MASSIVE MIDDLEWEIGHT MATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to Sydney, Australia, for the first time in five years on Sat., Sept. 9, 2023, with a 185-pound world title fight inside Qudos Bank Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight roost-ruler, Israel Adesanya, plans to silence No. 5-seeded contender, Sean Strickland. In UFC 293’s hard-hitting Heavyweight co-main event, No-6-ranked fan favorite, Tai Tuivasa, locks horns with towering Russian, Alexander Volkov (No. 8).

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

“He’s the most dangerous fight to date,” Whittaker said at UFC 290 media day (h/t MMA Fighting). “That’s because he’s the one that’s unwritten. Everything in hindsight is easy, but he’s the unknown. I understand the dangers that he presents because not only is he well-rounded and an athlete, physically he’s a big guy, he’s not a small fella. He has nothing to lose, everyone’s already washed him.

“He’s the underdog in this fight and tell me something more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose, everything to gain,” he continued. “And to show respect for that level of danger that he’s brought, I have trained like a madman for the last 14 weeks, and may the best man win. He’s going to get the best version of myself come the weekend.”

Whittaker, 32, has been nearly flawless during his time at Middleweight (12-2, 25-5 overall), having only suffered losses to the aforementioned Adesanya. In the case of a win, Whittaker plans to be ready for the targeted date of UFC 293 on Sept. 10, 2023, in Sydney, Australia.

A potential loss to “The Reaper” would be only the third of Du Plessis’ 10-year career (5-0 in UFC, 19-2 overall) and snap a seven-fight unbeaten streak.

“His resilience,” Whittaker said. “His ability to not quit. He’s an athlete, he’s talented, he’s got a very well-rounded skill set, and the fact that he doesn’t quit is dangerous. It’s dangerous. It will beat a lot of guys that do. You’ve seen that time and time again in his fights, he’s been so close to losing and then scrapes victory because he doesn’t quit and then his opponents do.”

“It’s not about breaking him,” he concluded. “It’s about being better than him. I’m going to try and dismantle him. I’m going to try and create holes and opportunities that I can exploit to take the win.”

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 290 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 290: “Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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