Dricus du Plessis agrees he’s ‘not making the smart move’ to get a fight with Israel Adesanya

Dricus Du Plessis has blazed a clear path to a fight with Israel Adesanya and UFC gold. There's just one massive road block in front of him.

By: Zane Simon | 3 weeks ago
Dricus du Plessis agrees he’s ‘not making the smart move’ to get a fight with Israel Adesanya
Dricus Du Plessis after his win over Derek Brunson. IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Dricus du Plessis is getting set for a serious top contender’s bout. The South African has made his name in the UFC, not just off a thrilling series of performances inside the Octagon, but also with his ability to get under the skin of middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. ‘Stillknocks’ has been taunting the ‘Last Stylebender’ for months over his African heritage, claiming that because Adesanya left his home country of Nigeria, he doesn’t have the right to claim himself as an ‘African fighter’ in the UFC.

It’s an obviously childish form of fight promotion that draws uneasily on the history of colonization and immigration across the African continent. Whatever the larger implications of that discussion may be, however, it’s done a good job building heat for the fight, with even Adesanya claiming he hopes Du Plessis keeps winning so he can get to the title.

Dricus du Plessis needs to beat Robert Whittaker first

Unfortunately, if Du Plessis has laid out an obvious path to UFC gold, getting there will be no easy feat. If he’s going to fight for the belt, he’ll have to beat former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker first. In recent years, other than an inability to best Adesanya, Whittaker has looked head-and-shoulders above the rest of his UFC competition. Between 2019 and 2023, he’s proved a tripping point for Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, Kelvin Gastelum, and most recently Marvin Vettori. In a recent interview with Submission radio, Du Plessis made it clear he knows he’s set himself up for potential failure.

“A lot of people are saying it’s not the smart move to be fighting Whitaker,” Du Plessis said, when asked about the fight. “100 percent I agree with that. I agree, it’s not the smart move. But I’m not here to be smart. Otherwise, I would’ve stayed in school and finished my studies and had to go work at a bank or wore a suit to work every day and did some corporate life.

“But that’s not the life I chose. I chose to be a warrior. I chose to be an entertainer. And at the end of the day, I’m a fighter, and that’s what I do. I fight. I don’t want to get that title shot based on some hype created by, I don’t even know what… some guy who has the title who’s behaving like a little child and overreacting, and now the fight is happening because of hype. I want to deserve my title shot. I don’t want to be handed a title shot. I’m gonna deserve my belt. And that’s why I wanted that Whittaker fight.”

Du Plessis not thinking about quick turnaround

If he does beat Whittaker at UFC 290 in July, the UFC has set Du Plessis up for a fast turnaround if he wants to fight Adesanya. UFC 293 is currently set to take place in Sydney, Australia, on September 10th. For his part, the champ has already stated that he’ll be ready to defend on that card, whoever his top contender will be. But that will mean coming out of the July 8th PPV relatively unharmed. For now, however, Du Plessis can only fight the battle in front of him.

“I’m not even thinking about that, to be honest,” Du Plessis said of the close proximity between UFC 290 and UFC 293. “Now, what will happen will happen. At the end of the day, my focus is on Robert Whittaker. I’m not even considering the fact that there’s a fight eight weeks or nine weeks after. It’s not a concern to me. We’ll face that bridge when we get there.

“I can’t be focusing or giving any percentage of my thought on something like that. My one hundred percent of my focus is fighting Robert Whitaker, winning this fight and doing it in spectacular fashion, earning that title shot. And then we’ll worry about what comes next. Right now, there’s not a single percentage of my mind that’s focusing at all on the fight after this. This is my 100% focus, and that’s the way it should be. Focus on the task at hand, and this will be the next step.”

UFC 290 is set to take place as the crowning event of the annual International Fight Week expo. A featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez is expected to headline the event. A flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja has been set for the co-main.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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