Dricus Du Plessis may soon get the opportunity to headline a UFC event after his convincing win over Darren Till. But despite the outcome, he still faced question about his conditioning for the long term future.
As soon as the fight started at UFC 282, Du Plessis came forward with a ferocious attack to put the pressure on Till with a big takedown followed by a barrage of punches against the cage. The referee actually warned Till several times that the fight was going to be stopped if he didn’t improve his position.
Ultimately, Till survived and made a strong comeback in the second round as Du Plessis looked winded after exerting so much effort through the first five minutes. Looking back at the fight, Du Plessis admits he’s not exactly sure what went wrong, but he knows it wasn’t a depleted gas tank from exerting too much effort going for the finish.
“After the flurry in the first round, I wasn’t tired at all,” Du Plessis explained on The MMA Hour. “Like my arms weren’t [tired] at all, I have no idea what happened. I spoke to my strength coach, I think it was more mechanical than anything else.
“I didn’t gas out in terms of my breath was there, I didn’t feel exhausted. My legs in the second round, I felt like my legs were swollen. Like I had ran a marathon. I just didn’t have any power in my legs.”
Du Plessis’ movement was notably labored by comparison to the first round, which allowed Till to correct course and put forward a much better effort.
Obviously, the South African middleweight didn’t suffer any serious consequences as a result. But he was still baffled at the way he was almost unable to move throughout the first few minutes of the second round.
“My arms were fine, my gas was fine,” Du Plessis said. “I was perfect, but I almost felt like I couldn’t bounce. My legs didn’t have any spring in them. That’s why it felt like I was just stuck in there. I would say halfway through the second round, my legs started to feel a lot better.”
There was a grappling exchange where Du Plessis locked a body triangle on Till that could explain at least some of the exhaustion he felt in his legs, although he’s still not certain that’s why he struggled to keep pace in the second round.
Du Plessis conceded that he did forgo some typical pre-fight warmups on his legs — including some treatment that usually happens just after he hits the scale at the weigh-ins — but even that doesn’t necessarily explain why his movement slowed so much after a fast start.
“What happens usually after a weight cut, I get my legs loosened up with a foam roller, the Hyperice gun, I get a physio to loosen up the legs but this time we didn’t do that,” Du Plessis said. “I didn’t loosen up my muscles after the weight cut and I think that might have played a role in my legs jamming up in the fight.
“It was weird. Because we went to go look at it again and nothing on my legs, I didn’t do anything heavy. I didn’t pick him up or anything like that. It was a very weird situation.”