Morning Report: Dricus du Plessis ‘agreed to everything’ for Israel Adesanya fight: ‘I don’t know what’s the hold-up’


Dricus du Plessis is ready for his first UFC middleweight title defense.

South Africa’s first world champion has silenced all doubters throughout his run inside the octagon. “Stillknocks” is undefeated in his first seven outings (21-2 overall) and finished five of them (four KOs, one submission). Towards his title coronation, he expected to collide with a quickly developed rival in former champion Israel Adesanya. However, injuries and timing prevented the fight from coming together.

The time appears to be now for du Plessis and Adesanya as the next middleweight title tilt and the roles reversed. That’s the fight the champion has always wanted and he’s now comfortably in the driver’s seat. Everything else comes down to the others involved, according to du Plessis.

“I’m in. I’ve agreed to everything. I’m ready,” du Plessis told FightWave of the Adesanya fight. “That’s the fight I want. I called him out after winning the belt, and that’s the fight the fans want to see.

“Let’s just announce this thing. I don’t know what’s the hold-up. I want it to be announced, I want it to go if that’s it. I said yes, 100 percent. I don’t know from his side, I don’t know what the story is, what the hold up is. Maybe UFC’s waiting for something, I’m not sure. I’ve agreed to it. If they phoned me today and said, ‘We’re doing the Sean Strickland second fight,’ I’ll be great, let’s do it. If they say no, we’re gonna wait and do the Khamzat [Chimaev] fight, great. I don’t make the fights. I said I’ll be ready to fight in May. I was ready to fight from then on. I just wasn’t ready for UFC 300.”

du Plessis, 30, captured UFC gold when he won a split decision over Strickland at UFC 297 this past January. Expecting that a turnaround offer could have been on the table for the historic UFC 300 event, the wear and tear was too much for the new champion who needed six weeks to recover from a foot injury before getting back to training. Now, he’d love to compete at UFC 305 in Perth, Australia in August.

Before du Plessis returns, the division will continue to sort itself out as top contenders Robert Whittaker and Khamzat Chimaev headline UFC Saudi Arabia next weekend.

“Very exciting division at the moment,” du Plessis said. “I think Khamzat and Whittaker fighting, that’s a big test for Khamzat. That’s a big step for Whittaker and what’s next in his career because he needs that win to stay in the front.

“Obviously, I have worlds of respect for Whittaker. I think he’s one of the greatest athletes ever. For Khamzat, exciting prospect in the middleweight division because he has this aura of he hasn’t been beaten. Should he beat Whittaker, I would love to fight Khamzat.”

du Plessis scored a second-round TKO over the former champion Whittaker to earn his title opportunity in July 2023. Whittaker has since rebounded with a strong showing against Paulo Costa that led to a unanimous decision win at UFC 298 one month after du Plessis’ title win.

Chimaev, on the other hand, will seek his 14th straight victory in his perfect career and a title shot will be all but guaranteed if he pulls out the win. Despite the stakes, du Plessis feels they’re a bit more one-sided in favor of Chimaev and his title hopes. All the names in the mix are fine with the champion going forward expect for that Whittaker rematch.

“In my opinion, if Whittaker beats Khamzat, I don’t think it warrants him the title shot,” du Plessis said. “Honestly, I would love to see him and Strickland fight it out for a No. 1 contender fight. If not, I was willing to fight Strickland, Adesanya, Khamzat, now I’m champion. I need to fight who they give me. I’m going to fight the best guy.

“Obviously, Strickland fans were like, ‘Fight him again.’ Guys, I will fight him again. I don’t make that decision. I guess there’s a case where I could step in and be like, ‘I don’t want to fight that guy,’ but at the end of the day, if I had to fight Adesanya, Strickland, or Khamzat, I would not have a problem with either of them. It’s good fights either way.”


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