It was a jaw-dropping performance from the South African fighter after he cracked Whittaker with a straight punch midway through the second round that stunned “The Reaper” and sent him backwards towards the cage. From there, Du Plessis just measured a number of heavy punches to the head and body with Whittaker eventually stumbling to the canvas as referee Marc Goddard rushed in for the stoppage.
The end came at 2:23 in the second round.
“To be honest, as I dropped him. I wanted to just rush but we all know I have a problem with that so I was like just stay calm, just stay calm,” Du Plessis said about the finish. “I saw the beginning of the end. Robert, he’s a gentlemen, a humble man and a legend in this sport.”
Du Plessis’ celebration was cut short because a second later he was staring down Adesanya, who made his way into the cage as the middleweights came nose-to-nose in a tense faceoff.
“I don’t need a DNA test to know where I’m from,” Adesanya shouted at Du Plessis. “I will show you where you’re from. It’s a easy fight. It’s easy money. I said I was going to have this moment.”
While nothing is official just yet it would seem likely that Adesanya and Du Plessis will settle their rivalry at UFC 293 in September, which is scheduled to take place in Sydney, Australia. Du Plessis definitely earned the opportunity after he became only the second person other than Adesanya to finish Whittaker at 185 pounds.
From the start of the fight, Du Plessis showed no fear standing in the pocket and exchanging with Whittaker until he turned the tables with a late takedown that allowed him to do some serious damage. A slicing elbow opened a cut on Whittaker’s head, which sent him back to the corner to clean the blood off his face.
As the second round started, Du Plessis was once again on the attack and that’s when he uncorked the perfectly timed straight right that snapped Whittaker’s head back. It was clear that Whittaker was hurt and Du Plessis wasted no time seizing on the opening to unload the combination of punches that led to the finish.
The win moves Du Plessis to 6-0 in the UFC and his next stop will be the middleweight title fight against Adesanaya as these two look to settle what’s grown into a bitter rivalry at 185 pounds.