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Israel Adesanya reveals injury suffered before UFC 287, blasts Dricus du Plessis: ‘I’m going to torture this guy’

Israel Adesanya after UFC 287
Israel Adesanya after UFC 287
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya won the UFC middleweight title at UFC 287 when he knocked out Alex Pereira in the second round of the main event. The win was massive for Adesanya, not just because he reclaimed the title, but because he finally vanquished his longtime nemesis, earning his first victory over Pereira in four tries.

Looking back, it’s all the more impressive considering he suffered a serious injury less than two weeks before the bout.

On Wednesday, Adesanya revealed on his YouTube channel that he suffered a Grade 1 MCL tear during training the week prior to the fight, even showing video of the sequence. Talking through the incident, “The Last Stylebender” addressed how he felt when it happened, pushing through the injury, and how things felt on fight night.

“I’ve been here before,” he said. “My UFC debut, three weeks out, I did my right ankle. I remember the next day, or that night, calling [his physiotherapist], and being like, ‘Yo, I need to see you tomorrow, ASAP.’ ... He had to like, re-injure it, or cause pain to it — I don’t know, it’s f****** magic or whatever, but I remember biting on a towel and sitting there in pain, screaming as he’s f****** massaging my hurt ankle where it’s not supposed to be massaged, because it hurt, but you’re supposed to.

“So, that’s one. [Derek] Brunson fight, I hurt my knee three weeks beforehand. I remember pops saying take five days off and just do nothing. It was really bad. I took five days off ... three weeks before the biggest fight of my life at [Madison Square Garden]. I just took it off and then locked it in, locked it down. It’s all part of the story. This is meant to happen. No one wants anything like this to happen, but if you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective.

“So I was like, ‘This has happened. This is my perspective. This was meant to happen. I’ll overcome this.’ So the comeback of getting from then to the cage was already a big win for me, because after doing that — because that was really f****** bad — but I was like, if I can get through that and get to the cage, this fight, I can get through it. So it added to my confidence, added to my fortitude. I was like, they can’t break me.”

Ultimately, Adesanya was right, as he was able to knock Pereira out cold when the champion got over-aggressive. Following the bout, Pereira announced his intention to move up to light heavyweight, scratching an MMA trilogy bout for the moment and opening up plenty of possibilities for Adesanya’s next title challenger.

But the Nigerian-born Kiwi only has one person on his mind: Dricus du Plessis.

“I know who I see, and I already talked to Dana [White], tried to set up some things:” Adesanya said

“I’m going to f****** take him to school, in the octagon and on history. What he’s doing is creating divide. You can’t know your history — I have never questioned him as an African, because yeah, you were born in Africa. South Africa. Of course you’re an African. I have never questioned that. But who the f*** is this cracker to tell me who the f*** I am? Who the f*** Kamaru [Usman] is, who the f*** [Francis] Ngannou is? I’m like, are you dumb? As a product of colonization, you’re trying to tell me who the f*** I am. You can take the boy out of Africa, but you can never take the Africa out of the boy.

“I never, ever did that to him. I never discredited him as an African. OK, there you are. Cool. You want to make a fight? Cool. But the fact that as a f****** cracker, to tell me who the f*** I am, that pissed me off, and that’s why he’s my next fight. I don’t want to fight anyone else. This one pisses me off.”

For the last several months, Adesanya and du Plessis have exchanged words in the media, stemming from comments du Plessis made about becoming the first “African champion” in the UFC. Earlier this month, the South African fighter somewhat walked those comments back, but the animosity remains between the two, and given his druthers, Adesanya would like to settle things on African soil.

“I tried to do it in South Africa, but apparently it might not work,” Adesanya said. “But again, I told Dana, you guys beat COVID before any other big sporting league got on the field or on the court, you guys did that. You can do anything. I still believe they can. I want to do it in South Africa or somewhere in Africa. [Du Plessis] thinks they’re going to have his back. It’s only the product of him that’s going to have his back. He doesn’t understand who I am.

“Like I said, he’s created division. I don’t like that. He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to do that. You don’t understand, I’m here now. I’m going to f*** this guy up. I’m going to torture this guy.

“You don’t have to create division. This is not the time for that s***. You could have definitely got the fight without talking all that s***. Well, be careful what you wish for. You got what you want. He’s next. I’m going to f****** beat him until he’s black.”

Unfortunately, Adesanya may not get his wish. Du Plessis first has to get past former champion and top-ranked contender Robert Whittaker when the two face off in a title eliminator bout at UFC 290 in July.

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