UFC Champ Dricus Du Plessis on Next Fight: ‘Does He Really Deserve a Title Shot?'

“Stillknocks” talks about what it takes to get a title opportunity.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Dricus Du Plessis has a few options for his first title defense.

The UFC Middleweight Champion kicked off the year with gold around his waist after a split decision win over Sean Strickland in January. Following UFC 297, Du Plessis says he got the call to fight Israel Adesanya at UFC 300, an offer he had to refuse due to time constraints. 

RELATED: UFC 305: Dricus Du Plessis Challenges Former Champ in Australia

Opting out of the quick turnaround, South Africa’s Du Plessis has entertained fights with Adesanya as well as Strickland, who has been in hot pursuit of a title rematch as of late. 

“Since this is a spectator sport, what do you guys think? @SStricklandMMA or @stylebender,” Du Plessis wrote on ‘X’. “Just for the record it makes absolutely no difference to me the result will be the same.”

Du Plessis reveals which fight he’d choose if he had to pick between the two former champions.

“In terms of hype, I'm trying to think on a situation where I would prefer Strickland. No, I would [take] the Izzy fight all day,” Du Plessis said on the Shadow Banned Podcast.

“I really do not care who I'm gonna fight. I don't care. The Izzy fight I just think it's gonna be huge and is going to be huge. But, I can tell you this, I thought about it last night, the night before, someone asked the question: does he really deserve a title shot?”

Du Plessis is on the fence this time around as the two-time middleweight champ Adesanya is in fact coming off a shut-out title loss to the aforementioned Strickland at UFC 293. 

While Adesanya never avenged his defeat to Strickland, ‘The Last Stylebender’ did get payback over Alex Pereira, knocking him out to reclaim the title in 2023 after a fifth-round TKO loss in 2022. 

“That's why he got the courtesy of getting it run back immediately with Alex Pereira,” Du Plessis added. “So, that's how I see it. When Alex beat him, firstly, he was winning that fight until he got knocked out. And then, being able to defend the belt that many times, you deserve to get him the immediate rematch. 

“I don't think about if you win the belt, that's why Sean Strickland is not getting a rematch when he wants to. If you haven't defended once or twice, even three times, four times– that's when you start getting into that rematch realm, in my opinion.”

Successful title defense or not, Sean Strickland is very adamant that he should be next in line for Du Plessis after a controversial split decision result in their last fight, with the controversial character citing on ‘X’, "If it was anyone else on the roster, the rematch would happen.”

Despite questioning Adesanya’s merit after his short-lived sequel title reign, “Stillknocks” won’t ‘complain’ too much about fighting the former champion next. After all, the two already have a history, including a heated face-off that took place in the Octagon at UFC 290.

“But Izzy, they did him the courtesy of how many times he defended by giving him the immediate rematch with Alex. Then, wins the fight. Great. Then, he loses again. 

“So in all technical aspects, he hasn't defended the belt since he had it again once. And that doesn't justify a rematch, but I'm not gonna complain, cause I want that fight. [I’ll] fight whoever they give me.”

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Chris De Santiago