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Israel Adesanya confident Robert Whittaker beats Dricus du Plessis at UFC 290, open to trilogy bout

UFC 271: Adesanya v Whittaker 2
Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Israel Adesanya believes he may be fighting Robert Whittaker again soon.

At UFC 287, Adesanya successfully reclaimed his middleweight title with a second-round knockout of longtime nemesis Alex Pereira. Afterward, Pereira said he intended to move up to 205 pounds, closing the door on a possible trilogy fight and leaving Adesanya without an obvious next title challenger. There was one man Adesanya was interested in facing, MMA Fighting’s No. 8 ranked middleweight Dricus du Plessis, but “The Last Stylebender” revealed on his YouTube channel that the UFC passed on that option.

“I tried to do Du Plessis in the f****** Death Star [Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas],” Adesanya said. “I tried. Maybe not International Fight Week because it was already booked, but I tried it later on. I was like, ‘F*** it, give him to me. It’s already there. What’s the point? Why wait?’”

Adesanya wants to fight du Plessis for personal reasons. After UFC 287, the middleweight champ said he would “gladly drag his carcass across South Africa” in response to comments from the du Plessis about being “the African fighting in the UFC.” If Adesanya wants to settle that beef, though, he first needs to cheer on du Plessis, because the South African fighter is instead facing Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 in July, in what has already been declared a No. 1 contender matchup. And Adesanya doesn’t like his chances.

“This is the game we play,” Adesanya said. “F***, I just [realized] it is three rounds. Percentage? I say Rob can probably finish him.

“I’d say Rob can probably get him out of there in the second round, or just beat him up for three rounds. Dricus’ only chance — I don’t like to say there’s no way, because there’s aways a way, but he can’t outlast Rob. I think Rob will be faster than him, fitter than him, so he might just have to make it ugly. But Rob can also fight ugly as well, so we’ll se. Honestly, 70 [percent chance Whittaker wins], but I really want Dricus.”

Aside from the personal animosity, Adesanya also wants du Plessis because it would be a new matchup. “The Last Stylebender” already holds two wins over Whittaker, most notably taking the title from him at UFC 243 in Whittaker’s own backyard of Melbourne, Australia.

Adesanya is now planning on defending his title at the UFC 293 card in September, which is set to take place in Sydney, and so if Whittaker wins and is ready for a quick turnaround, the champ says he’s happy to give Whittaker home field advantage one more time.

“No [it doesn’t bother me],” Whittaker said. “I think there’s another story there. It’s in a new city in Australia, another stadium, I’m sure. ... This one, it will be a nice day. I like it in Sydney. It will be a sunshine-y day.”

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