This past Saturday on the main card of UFC 290, we saw a middleweight title eliminator. Former champion Robert Whittaker (24-7) was looking to get his third shot against Israel Adesanya while Dricus Du Plessis (20-2) was trying to secure a title shot that would have some major heat behind it.
Early on in the first round, Whittaker was looking really good. He was moving well and even timed a takedown on Du Plessis. DDP has a very awkward style and a lot of times and he can run into shots and he did a couple of times with Whittaker.
However, near the end of the first round, Du Plessis got a body lock and just manhandled Whittaker to the ground. From there, he started unloading major elbows that cut open the former champion. DDP easily won the first round with that close.
In the second round, Du Plessis dropped Whittaker with a straight right hand. He was relentless after stinging Whittaker and went on to finish the former champion becoming just the second man at 185 to defeat the former UFC champion alongside Israel Adesanya.
UFC 290 Fallout
After the fight was over, current UFC champion Israel Adesanya got into the cage and faced off with DDP. There is a ton of heat behind these two that involves so much more than MMA. It all stems from Du Plessis’ comments about being a true African champion should he win a title.
What DDP meant was that he would be the only champion who was born in Africa and still resides there and trains there. However, Adesanya took it personally as did former champion Kamaru Usman. The comments were seen from a broader perspective as a shot to the “African-ness” of guys like Adesanya, Usman, and former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
There is so much negative history pertaining to Africa and South Africa that we won’t get into here but it’s going to be a part of the narrative of this fight. Another narrative is going to be whether or not DDP can actually defeat Israel Adesanya to become UFC champion.
Honestly, I was blown away with how he manhandled Robert Whittaker. I know Adesanya is not Whittaker, but if DDP can get ahold of him, Adesanya might be in trouble. At range, it’s all Adesanya. However, Du Plessis is like the terminator in that he can take a ton of shots and he just keeps charging forward.
He’s going to be a challenge for Adesanya. I would still bet on Adesanya, but it’s going to be a war.