Dricus du Plessis: Israel Adesanya at UFC 300 ‘sounds amazing,’ scoffs at Khamzat Chimaev

As he sat in front of reporters, UFC middleweight champ Dricus du Plessis joked about his appearance after a hard-fought title win over Sean Strickland at UFC 297.

“A little bit of damage? Do you remember how handsome I was before this fight?” he responded when asked about the lumps on his face and when he could return. “I look like a cauliflower now. But yeah, I’m pretty banged up right now.”

One of the most pressing questions coming from du Plessis’ win was naturally who was next, and the South African made that clear from jump street by calling out former champ Israel Adesanya.

Du Plessis declared his interest in making a quick turnaround to fight on the banner UFC 300 card on April 13. After going five rounds, he looked less than enthused about the reality of that idea.

“I’m up for another round if they want to go,” du Plessis said. “Yeah, I don’t want to put a timeline on it, but UFC 300 sounds amazing.”

Du Plessis vs. Adesanya was the fight on UFC fans’ minds before Strickland stepped into the South African’s spot at UFC 293 and wound up winning the title. Adesanya subsequently announced his intention to take a break from the sport.

Lately, Adesanya has teased a comeback, however, and du Plessis appears eager to make the fight happen. But despite the bitter foundation of their rivalry, a racially charged debate over who was the “real” African champ, the new champion said he’s not settling a score.

“It’s nothing personal,” he said. “It’s not personal at all. That’s just the fight the fans want to see. I want to fight the best competition. There’s a lot of guys I’m going to be fighting, but the fans want to see Israel Adesanya vs. Dricus du Plessis. There’s a lot of hype that was already built on it.

“If the fans, there’s some way they start backtracking and the fans don’t really want to see Adesanya, we don’t do that fight. It’s fine to me. I don’t care who it is. But that’s just the fight on top of my head that I think the people want to see and would get a lot of people excited.”

The Adesanya matchup makes a lot more sense to du Plessis than other middleweights on the roster, such as Khamzat Chimaev, who immediately tweeted at the new champion. Chimaev successfully debuted at 185 pounds this past year with a win over ex-welterweight champ Kamaru Usman.

Asked about Chimaev’s tweet apparently calling out du Plessis for UFC 300, the new champ scoffed at the idea.

“Yeah, but he said that to Jon Jones,” du Plessis responded when asked about Chimaev’s tweets. “Who takes that guy seriously?”

With the belt newly wrapped around his waist, everyone should be taking du Plessis seriously. In the buildup to the fight, there were doubts he could make it five rounds in a title fight given previous, pre-surgery troubles with getting enough oxygen. With a fix to his nose and wins over a former and current champ, he said there should be no question he’s among the elite.

“Hopefully, my cardio is a discussion of the past,” he said. “If not, keep on doubting, I don’t care. At your own demise, of course.”