Dricus Du Plessis claims he once manhandled Israel Adesanya in training

Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis have something new to feud over: a past sparring session.

By: Kristen King | 3 months ago

Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis have different versions of what happened when they trained together in Thailand. In recent interviews, the ‘Last Stylebender’ has revealed that he and Du Plessis have a history—with both men having previously trained at the same gym nearly 10 years ago.  

From what Adesanya recalled, ’Stillknocks’ got the better of him on the ground, while he bested Du Plessis on the feet.

“I remember this. We actually sparred,” said Adesanya on IMPAULSIVE. “Hey, sparring is sparring. Also, you know what? I’m coming from China. I was doing kickboxing over there. I had no MMA, nothing. I was just kickboxing. I had MMA already, but it wasn’t sharp. It was blunt. My jiu-jitsu was blunt, very blunt. 

“So when we’re sparring—I don’t know if we did two rounds or one,” continued Adesanya. “It was so long ago as well. This is 2014. So long ago. I remember like on the grappling, he had me. But on the striking, I just messed him up.”

According to Du Plessis, only half of that recollection is true.

Dricus Du Plessis gives his version of training with Israel Adesanya

When discussing the reigning UFC champion during an interview with The Schmo, Dricus Du Plessis confirmed he outgrappled Israel Adesanya. Everything else, though, he claims is false. 

“We trained in Thailand together,” said Du Plessis. “I think I was 19 years old at the time. He had quite a record in MMA already back then. I was 3-0 when we trained together. He said I beat him in the grappling exchanges. He is 100 percent correct in that. I did manhandle him in the grappling and wrestling exchanges, but we did not do a single round of striking together. Not one. 

“That was his way of saving himself, saying, ‘Yeah, but I beat him in the striking.’ We never did striking together,” continued Du Plessis. “Not one round. When we sparred, we grappled and we wrestled. We never did one single round of striking together. Not as far as I know and that’s something you would remember.”

Adesanya vs. Du Plessis on the horizon?

After rattling off five consecutive wins, Dricus Du Plessis is on the verge of securing his first UFC championship opportunity. Of course, that would come against Israel Adesanya, who he has shared some words with in the past couple of months. 

Ahead of his fight against Derek Brunson at UFC 285 this past March, the South African fighter ruffled some feathers with his comments on who was considered a true African champion. Despite Kamaru Usman, Francis Ngannou and Adesanya proudly representing the continent during their reigns, Du Plessis said he would technically be the first African UFC champion since he was born, raised and still resides in the region. 

Those comments upset Adesanya, who warned Du Plessis that he would ‘gladly drag his carcass across South Africa’ if they ever fought. In fact, the City Kickboxing product confessed he was ‘manifesting’ a win for Du Plessis in his upcoming fight against Robert Whittaker so he can get the chance to  do so. 

“Be careful what you wish for,” said Du Plessis in response to Adesanya. “At the end of the day, I don’t care if he hopes, if he wants it, I’ll win on my terms and it’s imminent like I said. When I fight for the belt, I’m going to fight Adesanya. He says he’s hoping that I win, that’s good. I don’t need hope. I think the hope is for those that believe winning can happen by accident. I’m not winning by accident or by him hoping. I’m winning because of hard work and because I’m the best fighter. 

“He’ll get his shot,” continued Du Plessis. “He can stand in line. He’s calling me out, I’m not calling him out. So, I’ll be fighting him because that’s what I deserve but he can stand in line just like everybody else and when the time comes, I’ll be fighting him.”

When is Du Plessis‘ next fight?

Dricus Du Plessis returns to the Octagon in a No. 1 contender against Robert Whittaker at UFC 290, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. According to UFC president Dana White, the winner would get a shot at Israel Adesanya, who recently reclaimed the UFC middleweight championship with a second-round KO of Alex Pereira this past April.

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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