Israel Adesanya wants a fresh challenge.
The two-time UFC middleweight champion has defeated a multitude of top contenders over the past few years, and with rival Alex Pereira making the move up to 205 pounds, the path is clear for Adesanya to take on a new name.
At the forefront of that discussion would appear to be Dricus Du Plessis, who is 5-0 to start his UFC career, with four of those wins coming by way of knockout or submission. Making a potential matchup between Adesanya and Du Plessis — No. 1 and No. 8 respectively in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings — even more compelling is the invective they’ve spewed at one another’s African heritage. Du Plessis hails from South Africa, while Adesanya is a native Nigerian who currently fights out of New Zealand.
“I’m going to manifest [Du Plessis] winning this fight in the first round, and when he does, I’m going to be right there in the cage so he can turn around in September,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour. “No bulls***, no ‘I’m hurt,’ this and that, nope. We’re going to fight in Sydney in September. Because Rob is Rob, whatever, I’ve already got a plan for Rob if it’s Rob. But I really, really, really hope it’s DDP, because I will show him who the f*** I am.”
Adesanya is targeting September so that he and Du Plessis can fight in Sydney at UFC 293. “The Last Stylebender” has competed in Australia many times in his career and it’s the country where he first became the undisputed UFC middleweight champion when he defeated Whittaker at UFC 243. Adesanya later defeated Whittaker again at UFC 271.
The feud between Adesanya and Du Plessis began when Du Plessis claimed that he has stronger ties to Africa due to him living and training on the continent as opposed to Adesanya, as well as fellow African-born fighters Francis Ngannou and Kamaru Usman, both of whom are currently based in the U.S. Adesanya has argued against Du Plessis’ claim and reiterated his stance on Monday.
“I’ll say this again,” Adesanya said. “I never questioned his ethnicity. I never said he’s not African, even though colonization — we don’t want to go over all that stuff. He is in Africa, he was born in South Africa, and I never questioned that. But the fact that he was being a d***head, ‘We know who the real African is, I breathe African air,’ all that kind of stuff — how the f*** are you going to question me, Francis, and Kamaru’s blackness or African-ness? Who the f*** are you? So I had to put that out there. I want to educate him.
“I’ll tell you one thing: You ever heard of ‘Ancestry and Me?’ [sic] If you do ‘Ancestry and Me’ [sic] on me, I know where the f*** I’m from. If you do it on him, he’ll find out where the f*** he’s from — and I’ll tell you, it won’t say South Africa. … It will tell you where the f*** he’s from, he’ll know his real heritage. I know who the f*** I am and I stand on that no matter where in the world I am. You can take the boy out of Africa, but you can never take Africa out of the man. I know that and I never questioned him as an African, so who the f*** is he to question me as an African?”
Adesanya insists that his feud with Du Plessis isn’t personal regardless of the seriousness of the topic being debated. In fact, he recalls being supportive of Du Plessis in the past — a past that Adesanya couldn’t help but add a dig to when he brought it up.
“Funny enough, we’ve trained together before,” Adesanya said. “I whooped his ass. He just wrestle-f***** me in the first round. … He was nice, he was a cool kid. Even in the UFC, when he came to the UFC, I was actually supportive. I was like, ‘Another African in the UFC,’ I swear you can find this online on my YouTube, ‘Another African in the UFC, this is cool.’ So the fact that he came out and started to be braggadocious and question me, I was like, ‘Who the f*** is this c***?’ So when this happens, I’m going to torture him.”
Even if Du Plessis pulls off an upset win over Whittaker, another snag to his possibly challenging Adesanya for the middleweight title is the fact that UFC 293 takes place just two months after UFC 290. That would be a quick turnaround for Du Plessis, who isn’t guaranteed to escape his fight with Whittaker unscathed even in the event of a victory.
Adesanya will be watching and doing his part to make the Du Plessis fight happen in September.
“It’s going to be first round, Dricus, f**** him up, somehow, by some magic, some juju,” Adesanya said. “We’ll make it happen. It’s a hard ask, but again, Player 1, you can make things happen. Really, I’ll pray on this and make it happen.”