Dricus Du Plessis believes it’s his turn for a title shot, not Israel Adesanya’s.
The #2 UFC Middleweight contender made a case for gold when he took out Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 in July. The TKO result even earned him a viral face-off with Israel Adesanya. Unfortunately for them, that fight wouldn’t take place as Sean Strickland was the one who stepped in to challenge for the middleweight strap at UFC 293.
We all know how that went… with Strickland shutting out Adesanya over five rounds to win the undisputed title.
Du Plessis On Adesanya vs. Strickland
Watching from the sidelines, Du Plessis has already recapped all the action and what it means going forward.
“Obviously massive congratulations to Sean Strickland, he just became the middleweight champion of the world,” Du Plessis told Middle Easy. “He’s been in the sport for such a long time. To be honest, I was somebody that always liked his fighting style. He was always somebody that was fun to watch and sometimes he showed up and sometimes he didn’t fight that great, but he was always there. But in my mind, he was never gonna be a champion. And here he is, that is the name of the game now: show up on the night and do your job. He did that very, very well.
“Adesanya, on the other hand, he looked extremely terrible in that fight,” Du Plessis said of the former champ. “He didn’t look like the same guy that all of us know. He didn’t look like the striker that he’s known to be. I know a lot of people going, saying Strickland just shut him down. He did that very well. He did walk him down. But now Adesanya was missing every shot. His timing was off, his speed was off. But, Strickland did what he had to do to win that fight. Congratulations on Strickland. He did what he needed to do to win that fight.”
Du Plessis Says Strickland’s Performance ‘Wasn’t Something Special’
Don’t get it twisted, Du Plessis wasn’t all that impressed with how Strickland came out on top in Sydney, Australia.
“He did it great, but it wasn’t something special that he did. He fought the exact same fight he always fought. He fought the exact same way he always fight. He walked Adesanya down, and he did such a great job at not baiting to faints, but sticking to his plan. So, that’s great.”
‘Strickland Is The Target’
While a grudge match with Adesanya was the goal for Du Plessis earlier this year, the South African fighter has changed his own course for a potential title fight with newly-crowned champ Sean Strickland.
“For me right now, Strickland is the target,” Du Plessis continued. “That’s how it is for me. I’m not number one contender in the world to fight Adesanya. I’m number one contender in the world to fight Sean Strickland. Number one contender in the world to fight for the belt. I don’t care who has the belt. It’s about getting that title.”
Adesanya ‘Not Justified’ In Getting Second Chance
Du Plessis explains that Adesanya shouldn’t be involved in an immediate title rematch with Strickland.
“The Adesanya fight is still a fight that everybody wants to see. Myself vs. Adesanya to go on a fight night and do that fight doesn’t make sense. What makes sense right now is giving me the [title] fight. If you look at it, let’s give Adesanya a rematch that doesn’t really make sense. It’s not justified now being [1-2] last two few outings. Yeah, he lost to Pereira, won over Pereira, lost to Strickland. That does not justify a title fight for me.
“If he lost a close fight, if he was winning the fight like he was in Pereira’s first fight and then got caught, understandably, a rematch can be justified, but it wasn’t a close fight. Strickland absolutely obliterated him for five rounds.”
Du Plessis Says Fight With Adesanya Is ‘Still On The Table’
With the controversial Sean Strickland in his cross-heirs, Dricus Du Plessis still holds out hope that he’ll fight heated rival Israel Adesanya somewhere down the line.
“The big fight with me and Adesanya is still on the table,” Du Plessis added. “It’s still there. We can still capitalize on that because he does deserve a hiding. He does deserve what’s coming to him from me and how I see this in my mind is I fight Strickland, become middleweight champion and the first fight of the defense is against Israel Adesanya at UFC 300. In a perfect world, that’s how I would like it to play out.”