Dricus du Plessis is set to fight Robert Whittaker next at UFC 290 in July despite there being some interest in him being propelled to a title shot against his rival Israel Adesanya, and the fighter admits that taking on another tough match-up in the mean time is a big risk.
“A lot of people are saying it’s not the smart move to fight Whittaker and 100 percent, I agree with that,” Du Plessis told Submission Radio. “I agree it’s not the smart move, but I’m not here to be smart. Otherwise, I would’ve stayed in school and finished my studies, went to go work at a bank, wear a suit to work every day, and do some corporate life. That’s not the life I chose. I chose to be a warrior, I chose to be an entertainer, and at the end of the day, I’m a fighter. That’s what I do. I fight.
“I don’t want to get that title shot based on some hype created by, I don’t even know what, some guy who has the title who’s behaving like a little child and overreacting and now the fight is happening because of that. I want to deserve my title shot. I don’t want to be handed a title shot. I’m going to deserve my belt, and that’s why I wanted that Whittaker fight.”
Du Plessis is currently on a five-fight winning streak in the UFC, beating the likes of Brad Tavares, Darren Till and most recently Derek Brunson along the way, but he has no doubt that former champion Whittaker will be his toughest test yet.
“Every single person in the middleweight division, if you can find a way to get to that belt without fighting Robert Whittaker then that’s a plus,” Du Plessis said. “I think if you look at Marvin Vettori, he fought Whittaker after he fought for the belt. If you look at Paulo Costa, they made sure he didn’t fight Whittaker. If you look at most of the guys that fought ‘Izzy,’ at the end of the day, you have to realize that Pereira didn’t have to fight Whittaker so out of the Top 5, nobody fought Whittaker, really, out of that Top 5. Nobody has fought Whittaker before they had to fight for the belt because they know Whittaker is just going to run through everybody like he has. There’s never gonna be another contender. He’s just going to beat everybody before they get a chance to fight for the title.
“If you look at that stat, the UFC knows Whittaker is the champion in the universe where Adesanya wasn’t there.”