Newly re-crowned middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is eager to close the book on his rivalry with Alex Pereira and has instead now turned his attention to calling out Dricus du Plessis, although he didn’t go as far as to do so by name.
Why is the 6th ranked middleweight on the champion’s radar? It’s not so much that the South African is on a five-fight winning streak in the UFC, but rather due to comments he made about Adesanya and former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman recently.
“Did those belts ever go to Africa?” Du Plessis said of Adesanya and Usman after UFC 285. “As far as I know, they came to America and New Zealand. I’m going to take a belt to Africa. I’m the African fighter in the UFC. Myself and Cameron [Saaiman], we breathe African air. We wake up in Africa every day. We train in Africa, we’re African born, we’re African raised, we still reside in Africa; we train out of Africa—that’s an African champion, and that’s who I’ll be.”
Adesanya resides in New Zealand, but like Usman was born in Nigeria and is proud of his heritage, and so it was inevitable that Du Plessis remarks would provoke a response from him.
“I don’t wanna give this n**** clout,” Adesanya said at the UFC 287 post-fight press conference. “I don’t. I wanna whoop his ass so bad. I wanna whoop his ass so bad. I wanna do it in South Africa, or Nigeria, but he’s got to do work, he’s got to do something, show me something, so I can whoop that ass and I can show you history.
“I’ll remind you, because you got to choose your words wisely when you speak on people that have come before you, people that paved the way for you. You gotta pick your words wisely. You wanna try and be a big boy – I want be with the big boys. Go choose your words wisely, but I don’t wanna give him no clout.
“But if he does work and, and, I pray to God, he keeps winning, I will gladly drag his carcass across South Africa.”
Du Plessis has since responded and welcomed the possibility of fighting Adesanya, though he doesn’t want to wait until the UFC finally brings an event to South Africa.
“So you won’t say my name, that’s smart you better not,” Du Plessis wrote. “I don’t need your airtime at all, I have my whole continent of AFRICA behind me. Go enjoy your very spectacular victory at home in New Zealand. UFC Africa is far from being done at least another year, I’ll meet you on neutral ground this year and if you still feel so strongly after facing me and I take your belt home I’ll give you another chance to come and try face me on MY HOME soil of Africa. We are Africa we fear nothing and certainly nobody.”