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Morning Report: Dricus Du Plessis won’t backpedal African champion ‘facts,’ explains risky Robert Whittaker fight

UFC 285: Brunson v Du Plessis Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Dricus Du Plessis knows the difficulty of the challenges ahead of him.

Currently ranked at No. 6 in the official UFC middleweight rankings, South Africa’s “Stillknocks” has been perfect in his last seven fights, winning all but one by finish (four KO/TKOs, two submissions) and his last five under the UFC banner. UFC 285 saw Du Plessis (19-2) capture his latest and greatest victory yet over perennial Top 10 contender Derek Brunson in the closing seconds of round two. If the win wasn’t enough to inch the former KSW welterweight champion toward UFC gold, his pre-fight comments and the aftermath certainly helped.

At UFC 285 media day, Du Plessis spoke on his title aspirations before describing himself and UFC bantamweight Cameron Saaiman as African fighters and that he’ll take a belt back to the continent. The comments didn’t sit well with Nigerian-born former and current champions Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya, the latter of which has since expressed his great desire to punish Du Plessis in the octagon as a result.

Hearing Adesanya’s response was a surprise to Du Plessis and he thought any backlash overall was ridiculous. Du Plessis felt the reigning two-time champion may have not even watched the video to hear everything as it was said. Ultimately, the Hatfield, Pretoria native isn’t bothered to have angered “The Last Stylebender.”

“I never said it wasn’t my intention,” Du Plessis told Submission Radio. “It wasn’t my intention because that’s not what I said. It was never my intention, there was no intention involved. It was look at the facts what I said. I’ve never said the words ‘more African’ in my life. I didn’t say they were not African. I stated facts. I am the only one in title contention ever born in Africa, live in Africa, reside in Africa, and train there every single day. That was my statement.

“Some people say I’m backpedaling, I never backpedaled. I’m sticking with that because that is the facts. I don’t care how it came across, I care about what the fact is and what I said and that’s what I said.

“It seems to have struck a nerve with Israel Adesanya,” he continued. “It seems like he likes to be whatever fits him best considering nationalities. He’s referred to himself as a Kiwi, he’s referred to himself as Chinese, he’s referred to himself as a Nigerian. At the end of the day, he’s born in Africa, he is African but he does not reside here and that is the fact. That is what makes me and him different. We are both born in Africa, but at the end of the day, my success is coming out of and from Africa. I live here, I wake up, I train, I fly from Africa to Las Vegas to go fight and I come back and that is the facts.”

Despite newly-formed tensions and the makings of a rivalry, Du Plessis insists that it’s one-sided and nothing negative from his end. The two may never end up being friends and Du Plessis is fine with that. In the cage is what matters to “Stillknocks” and no matter how he’s treated by the champion, he’ll recognize the talent of Adesanya.

“I don’t know Israel personally at all,” Du Plessis said. “As a fighter, I’ve always had mad respect for Israel Adesanya. I think he’s an incredible, incredible fighter. In terms of that and legacy of being a really, really good fighter and being possibly one of the greatest middleweights to ever do it, unfortunately, his competition is the great Anderson Silva. But he’s on his way there and I can never take that away. I can never take away the fact that he’s incredibly brilliant.

“Like I said, he was born in Africa, he represents Africa 100 percent. But he does not reside in Africa. He hasn’t resided in Africa for a very, very long time. That is the only statement that I made. In terms of being a fighter, he’s absolutely incredible and anybody who says otherwise is ridiculous.”

A lot of questions followed Adesanya’s redemptive title capturing against Alex Pereira last month. Finishing “Poatan” with a wild second-round knockout, Adesanya tied their MMA series at one win apiece, providing the possibility for an instant trilogy. Instead, Pereira now prepares to make his light heavyweight MMA debut while Du Plessis can secure the next shot at Adesanya with a UFC 290 win over former champion Robert Whittaker on July 8.

The 29-year-old finisher in Du Plessis was expecting to be title bound immediately after his and Adesanya’s recent results. For a moment, he even heard rumblings that negotiations were headed in that direction for July. If he had to guess, Du Plessis believes the promotion promised Whittaker a fight as well, leaving no other option.

Du Plessis could have always declined the unnecessarily risky challenge that is Whittaker. However, these are the kinds of opportunities he wants to get through whether it’s before or after he obtains a UFC title.

“A lot of people are saying it’s not the smart move to fight Whittaker and 100 percent, I agree with that,” Du Plessis told Submission Radio. “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, went to go work at a bank, wear a suit to work every day, and do some corporate life. 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. 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 that. I want to deserve my title shot. I don’t want to be handed a title shot. I’m going to deserve my belt, and that’s why I wanted that Whittaker fight.”

In the middleweight division, Whittaker has become somewhat of a championship fight without a title on the line. “The Reaper’s” only two losses in his 14-fight run at 185 pounds came against Adesanya and a win over Du Plessis will lead him to his desired trilogy.

Regardless of having to wait and get through the toughest challenge possible before a title fight, Du Plessis is ecstatic to potentially add a legacy-boosting win to his resume. As has been the story of his 21-fight career, Du Plessis expects to find the finish against his Australian counterpart.

“Every single person in the middleweight division, if you can find a way to get to that belt without fighting Robert Whittaker then that’s a plus,” Du Plessis said. “I think if you look at Marvin Vettori, he fought Whittaker after he fought for the belt. If you look at Paulo Costa, they made sure he didn’t fight Whittaker. If you look at most of the guys that fought ‘Izzy,’ at the end of the day, you have to realize that Pereira didn’t have to fight Whittaker so out of the Top 5, nobody fought Whittaker, really, out of that Top 5. Nobody has fought Whittaker before they had to fight for the belt because they know Whittaker is just going to run through everybody like he has. There’s never gonna be another contender. He’s just going to beat everybody before they get a chance to fight for the title.

“If you look at that stat, the UFC knows Whittaker is the champion in the universe where Adesanya wasn’t there.”


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The MMA Hour.


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That Khamzat joker is terrifying.

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We all are.

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Don’t get our hopes up, sir.


Justice for Nattie Silva!






Terrance McKinney (13-5) vs. Nazim Sadykhov (8-1); UFC Vegas 77, July 15

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida (4-0) vs. Oumar “Reug Reug” Kane (5-1); ONE Fight Night 13, Aug. 4

Valentin Moldavsky (11-3, 1 NC) vs. Steve Mowry (10-0-1, 1 NC); Bellator 298, Aug. 11

Dalton Rosta (8-0) vs. Aaron Jeffery (13-4); Bellator 298, Aug. 11

Sidney Outlaw (16-5) vs. Islam Mamedov (22-2-1); Bellator 298, Aug. 11

Lucas Brennan (7-0) vs. Weber Almeida (7-1); Bellator 298, Aug. 11


You sure can’t say Du Plessis is short on confidence. I’m always excited for his and Whittaker’s fights but he’s making me even more excited. Will “New Nose Du Plessis” be a mythical force?

Thanks for reading!



Which impending middleweight title fight interests you more?

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  • 24%
    Adesanya vs. Whittaker 3
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  • 54%
    Adesanya vs. Du Plessis
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  • 20%
    Equally as interesting
    (130 votes)
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