Dricus Du Plessis’ No. 1 Middleweight title contender position may not be as secure as the South African thought.
Du Plessis stunned the mixed martial arts (MMA) world when he knocked out Robert Whittaker in the second round of their UFC 290 fight (highlights here). Immediately afterward, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, entered the cage and had a heated (and super ugly) face off with “Stillknocks,” setting up what we thought was an undeniable showdown.
That was before Du Plessis refused to turn around quickly and fight again two months later at UFC 293. Now, UFC President, Dana White, and Adesanya are both suggesting Dricus may not be next for “The Last Stylebender” if Izzy emerges from Sydney, Australia, victorious.
“You know how much I love it when guys turn down fights,” White said following Tuesday’s Contender Series event. “We’ll see what happens on Saturday and then we’ll go from there.”
“Yeah, Dricus doesn’t know how to play the game,” Adesanya said at UFC 293 media day, when told of White’s comments (watch it). “Look, you can’t sit on your f—ing ranking or whatever and think you got it locked in. This is the UFC. If you look back at the history of the UFC, s— happens, you know? So he thought he was sitting pretty, but he might have to fight two more times before he gets a shot at this.
“He doesn’t call the shots,” Adesanya added. “I do. I need you to understand this: I call the shot, you don’t call the shot, dickless. You need to understand this. You can sit pretty wherever you want, but if I decide to, I might give it to whoever wins between [Paulo] Costa and Khamzat [Chimaev]. Not you.”
Adesanya noted that he has always stepped up when UFC offered an opportunity, and there was no injury that ever stopped him from taking advantage of what was given.
“There’s many times I could have pulled out, but I still didn’t pull out of a fight,” he said. “Even though my pull out game is strong. I still have never pulled out of a fight. Ever. And I stand on that.”
Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev fight at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 21, 2023, and if it’s the barnburner we all expect it to, appetite for an immediate Dricus Du Plessis title shot may wane a little?
Would UFC really force Dricus to fight again and potentially mess up a guaranteed big money showdown with Izzy? Never underestimate White’s willingness to sacrifice short term gains for long-term control of his roster.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 293 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPNN/ESPN+ 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 293: “Adesanya vs. Strickland” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.