Dricus Du Plessis, the No. 6 ranked middleweight in the UFC, is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead for him in his quest for a title shot. Du Plessis, known as “still knocks,” has been on an impressive winning streak, finishing all but one of his last seven fights. His most recent victory came against perennial Top 10 contender Derek Brunson at UFC 285, where he secured a thrilling victory in the closing seconds of the second round.
Leading up to the fight, Du Plessis expressed his aspirations for a title and referred to himself and UFC bantamweight Cameron Saaiman as African fighters who would bring a belt back to the continent. These comments didn’t sit well with Nigerian-born champions Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya, particularly the latter, who expressed a desire to punish Du Plessis in the octagon as a result.
Du Plessis was taken aback by Adesanya’s response and felt that any backlash he received was unwarranted. He clarified that his intention was never to undermine Adesanya’s African heritage but rather to highlight his own unique circumstances as a fighter who was born, lives, and trains in Africa. Du Plessis maintains that his success is rooted in Africa, and that is what sets him apart from Adesanya, who may have been born in Africa but does not reside there.
Despite the tensions and the potential for a rivalry with Adesanya, Du Plessis maintains that he holds no negative feelings towards the champion. He has always had great respect for Adesanya as a fighter and recognizes his incredible skills and accomplishments in the middleweight division. Du Plessis acknowledges that Adesanya represents Africa and has made significant contributions to the sport.
Following Adesanya’s recent title defense against Alex Pereira, there was speculation about a potential trilogy fight between the two. However, Du Plessis finds himself facing former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290. While some may view this as a risky challenge, Du Plessis is undeterred. He believes that it’s not always about making the smart move but rather embracing opportunities and proving himself in the octagon.
Du Plessis understands that defeating Whittaker is a necessary step towards earning a title shot. Whittaker, with only two losses in his last 14 fights, has become a formidable contender in the middleweight division. Du Plessis sees this fight as an opportunity to solidify his legacy and add another impressive win to his record.
Regardless of the challenges he faces, Du Plessis remains focused on his goal of becoming a champion. He wants to earn his title shot and prove that he deserves it through his performances in the octagon. The middleweight division is stacked with talent, but Du Plessis is determined to make his mark and achieve greatness in the UFC.