Israel Adesanya’s Coach Prefers Du Plessis, Says Whittaker ‘Hasn’t Really Done Anything’ To Earn Trilogy Fight

Izzy's coach thinks "Stillknocks" has presented a better case of becoming a title challenger than "The Reaper."

Israel Adesanya Coach Talks Dricus
Israel Adesanya Coach Talks Dricus - Image Credit @Dricusduplessis @Robwhittakermma @Stylebender Instagram
  • Israel Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman is hoping to face Dricus du Plessis instead of Robert Whittaker in the next title fight
  • Bareman thinks the middleweight division lacks legitimate title fight contenders

As Israel Adesanya waits for his next title challenger between Robert Whittaker and Dricus du Plessis, his longtime coach Eugene Bareman opened up about their honest take on how things could and should play out in the middleweight division.

Izzy wants Dricus

Speaking to Sky Sports New Zealand, Bareman blatantly revealed that Izzy and the team prefer Du Plessis over Whittaker as they feel “The Reaper” hasn’t really proven himself worthy of a third title fight with Adesanya.

“How many wins has he had since we last [fought] him? I think once. We’ve fought him, and he’s basically been in the ring one time since then. Whereas we’ve just been tracking on,” Bareman explained.

“Izzy, we are who we are. Just put the opponent in front of us, and then we’ll fight. I mean, our preference is not to fight Robert again because we’ve obviously already beaten Robert twice, and he hasn’t really done anything since that loss to warrant fighting again. So our preference would be the South African [Du Plessis]. But then the South African has to cross the line, and obviously, he has a very tough opponent,” he continued.

The Middleweight Division hasn’t been Competitive

Bareman also admitted that he couldn’t really think about who among the current middleweight contenders rightfully deserves a crack at Adesanya. The way Bareman sees it, none of the guys haven’t presented a serious threat to the champ and all of them need to step their game up.

For Bareman, the lack of legitimate title contenders in the division resulted in rematches and trilogy fights with guys like Whittaker, which has become “ridiculous.”

“Sometimes it’s not all about this fight, it’s about what fight is available. Whoever he hasn’t fought. Dricus said to me, he can get himself a win and Sean Strickland’s coming off a win, if he can get another one, otherwise you’re looking at fighting guys like three times or four times, it just gets a little bit ridiculous,” Bareman pointed out.

“I mean, really that’s not an Israel problem, that’s a problem to do with the division and those guys need to, people need to put themselves forward,” he continued. “That’s how you become a champion. You put yourself forward, you fight, you do quick turnarounds, you fight whoever they put in front of you, you don’t get injured, you fight through injuries. When you’re a champion, there’s certain liberties you get I guess, but when you are a contender, you are in a scrap. You’re in a proper, fighting all the other dogs for the bone. You’ve really gotta get in there and scrap for it and separate yourself from the rest and put yourself as the number one guy.”

Whittaker and Du Plessis will take on each other at UFC 290 next month. The fight will be a title eliminator bout and the winner will face Adesanya as he hopes to defend his reclaimed middleweight belt.

Du Plessis is coming off an impressive five-fight winning streak in the UFC, while Whittaker has only won one fight since his rematch with Adesanya at UFC 271.

Published on May 29, 2023 at 11:42 am
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