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Israel Adesanya ‘disappointed’ in Dricus Du Plessis but still hopes to ‘whoop his ass’ in South Africa

UFC 290: Whittaker v Du Plessis Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

When Israel Adesanya stared down Dricus Du Plessis in July, he had every assumption that the two middleweights would be settling their business a few months later at UFC 293.

As it stands, however, Du Plessis passed on the fight date in September due to a lingering foot injury sustained in his win over Robert Whittaker, which forced Adesanya to shift his focus to Sean Strickland instead. While fighting close to home at the upcoming card in Sydney, Australia, was most important to him, Adesanya was still none too happy when he heard word that Du Plessis wouldn’t be his opponent.

“I’m not mad, I’m disappointed,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting while appearing for “He missed out on his opportunity. That would have been [huge], but again, I think it’s for the greater good. That’s OK. When it happens, it will be one the biggest fights in sporting history. All in due time.”

The bitter rivalry between the middleweights blossomed after Du Plessis touted plans to take the title back to Africa as “the African fighter in the UFC,” because he still lives and trains there, whereas Adesanya was born in Nigeria but now resides in New Zealand.

Those words and numerous explanations made afterward put Du Plessis at the top of Adesanya’s hit list, which is why he really wanted the fight to happen at UFC 293.

That obviously didn’t work out, but Adesanya is still confident that he’ll eventually cross paths with Du Plessis, and the timing might even give him a bigger and better opportunity to settle the grudge.

With Du Plessis proudly representing his South African roots and the UFC looking at taking an event to Africa sooner rather than later, Adesanya welcomes the chance to go home again — with his middleweight title on the line.

“It could happen in South Africa,” Adesanya said. “It could happen somewhere on the great continent of Africa. It could happen in Nigeria, Morocco, even South Africa — it would be better if we had it in South Africa. I’d like to whoop his ass in his own home country.”

As much as Adesanya wants that fight, he can’t say for certain when that might happen, because everything always comes down to timing.

That’s why he laments Du Plessis passing on the chance to face him in September.

Adesanya knows he could tear through Strickland and get right back in the cage again before the end of 2023, or he might wait to make his return until sometime in 2024.

Perhaps by then another middleweight title challenger will emerge, so Adesanya isn’t counting on anything as a guarantee quite yet — except that Du Plessis already missed out on his guaranteed title shot at UFC 293.

“We’ll see how I feel,” Adesanya said. “We’ll see what’s happening around that time. Dricus shouldn’t have thought he could sit pretty in this division and just hold onto his No. 1 spot. I’ve never done that.

“I just go for the chances when they’re there. That’s how I fought Anderson Silva. That’s how I fought for the title. You take the chances when they’re there. You don’t wait and hope. So he’ll learn. But we’ll see and I’ll see how I feel, because I call the shots.”

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