Israel Adesanya hopes Dricus Du Plessis beats Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 but doesn’t think he will

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya hopes Dricus Du Plessis emerges as the No. 1 contender at UFC 290.

Du Plessis (19-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) meets Robert Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) on July 8 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Adesanya (23-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) said he was ready to defend his title against Du Plessis next, but the promotion opted to make the South African fighter have to get through former champ Whittaker first.

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“I tried to do Du Plessis in the Death Star (Allegiant Stadium),” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “Maybe not International Fight Week because it was already booked, but I tried it for later on. I was just like, ‘F*ck it, just give him to me’ because it’s already there. What’s the point? Why wait?”

Adesanya’s desire to fight Du Plessis stems from the South African native’s recent comments where he said he would be the first true African UFC champion since he still lives in Africa, whereas the Nigeria-born Adesanya and Kamaru Usman left as young kids.

But Adesanya doesn’t give Du Plessis too big of a chance to get past Whittaker.

“Rob can probably get him out of there in the second round or just beat him up for three rounds,” Adesanya said. “Dricus’ only chance – I don’t like to say there’s no way because there’s always a way, but he can’t outlast Rob. I think Rob will be faster than him, fitter than him. So yeah, he might just have to make it ugly. Rob knows how to fight ugly, as well. … I would say 70 (percent chance Whittaker wins). But I really want Dricus. Maybe that’s why I’m being bias.”


If Whittaker beats Du Plessis, Adesanya will have to fight him a third time. “The Last Stylebender” already defeated Whittaker twice in title fights – once by knockout, and the second time by decision in a much more competitive fight at UFC 271.

Adesanya is targeting his return at UFC 293 on Sept. 10 in Sydney.

“I think there’s another story there,” Adesanya said. “It’s in a new city in Australia, another stadium.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 290.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie