Israel Adesanya looking ahead to ‘one of the most important fights in sporting history’

Sure, Sean Strickland is right in front of him, but Israel Adesanya still has another, bigger fight on his mind.

By: Zane Simon | 1 month ago
Israel Adesanya looking ahead to ‘one of the most important fights in sporting history’
Israel Adesanya ringside for Tim Tszyu vs. Carlos Ocampo. - Morgan Hancock IMAGO/AAP

Israel Adesanya has a title fight in front of him. Sean Strickland has been tabbed to face the middleweight champion next month at UFC 293 in Sydney Australia. But, the Xtreme Couture talent wasn’t the UFC’s first choice to compete for gold and, from the sound of things, he’s still not the first thing on Adesanya’s mind.

Speaking to MMA Junkie, Adesanya made it clear that he’s not taking Strickland lightly, “because a man with everything to gain and nothing to lose is a very dangerous man.” However, the ‘Last Stylebender’ also made it clear that he plans to knock his opponent out at UFC 293, and then move on to bigger things.

Israel Adesanya still has eyes on Dricus du Plessis

At this point, it has to be said that South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis may have executed one of the most successful trash talk campaigns in UFC history. A relative unknown to US fans when he first took to the Octagon back in 2020, du Plessis’ insistence that he would be the first African champion in UFC history wormed its way right under the skin of the ‘Last Stylebender’ and has been living there ever since.

‘Stillknocks’ earned his title shot this past July with a shocking upset victory over former champion Robert Whittaker. Unfortunately for him, the two-month turnaround the UFC was demanding for their Australia PPV wasn’t enough time for the 29-year-old to recover, giving Strickland the chance to take his place and fight for gold. That said, when du Plessis is healthy again, it sounds like he’ll be right back in contention for a fight that Adesanya feels will be “one of the most important” in MMA history.

“We’ll see if he shows up but also, I’ll see how I feel,” Adesanya said of a potential future fight with Du Plessis before making it clear how he feels (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I do want that fight. I feel like that will be one of the most important fights in sporting history. I mean that when I say in history. I’ll see how I feel because again, time keeps on ticking. Time waits for no man.”

Adesanya’s coach thinks du Plessis already lost his place

Ironically, considering how vocal his fighter is in asking for the bout, City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman recently made it clear that he feels du Plessis lost his spot in line when he declined the chance to fight at UFC 293 due to injury.

“I don’t make that call. But the problem is, if you don’t step up and take fights, you go into the pool,” Bareman explained, speaking of du Plessis in a recent interview. “That’s a fact. Nothing in this sport is solid until there’s something signed on the dotted line. If he’s got nothing signed on the dotted line, then he’s out there in the ether. He had a shot. He had a shot. It’s the same shot that many of my boys have had who have fought for titles or had titles.”

Assuming the Sydney PPV event goes as planned and Adesanya walks away with the title belt still around his waist, it seems more than likely that du Plessis will, in fact, have kept his spot in line. The only potential wildcard might be the October booking between Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa. If Chimaev can electrify the fans in Abu Dhabi then that might be enough to shift the champ’s attention. Until then it seems the former kickboxing star has his targets firmly lined up.

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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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