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Adesanya, Du Plessis clash over African champ narrative

Dricus Du Plessis still stands by his statement about being the UFC’s first African champion.

Reigning middleweight titleholder Du Plessis (21-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) will look to make his first defense in the UFC 305 headliner Aug. 17 when he takes on former champion Israel Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia (ESPN+ pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+).

The bad blood stemmed from Du Plessis claiming he’s the first true African UFC champion, disregarding Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, and Francis Ngannou, who he argues did not reside or train out on the continent when claiming UFC gold. That resulted in a racially charged faceoff at UFC 290 in July 2023, after Du Plessis finished Robert Whittaker.

“We’ve had history over the years,” Adesanya said during Tuesday’s UFC 305 on-sale press conference. “It’s almost like destiny because we met in Thailand, Tiger Muay Thai back in the day. Had a little play around, and funny enough, here we are again. It’s like full circle, back where it all started for me. Again, he tried to discredit the three kings and say that he’s the real true African champion.

“And I was just, like, it’s a weird mindset, bro. Like he came in the UFC, I knew who he was a little bit, but I didn’t go, ‘Oh, who the f*ck is this fake dude coming in?’ I just said, ‘Cool, he’s another African in the UFC.’ But then him discrediting me, Francis Ngannou, and Kamaru Usman, that ticked me off a little bit. So that’s what started this. But again, I’ll finish it.”

Du Plessis clarifies his stance, and was adamant he won’t change it.

“There’s no tension for me,” Du Plessis said. “I get into the octagon and I do my job. I do my business. You can be the biggest asshole in the world. You can be the nicest guy in the world. I’m going out there to kill you, and I hope you’re doing the same to me because otherwise, it’s not going to be a good night for you. As far as discrediting – I never discredited anybody. Stating fact.

“Where do I reside? What’s my postal code? Where do I train? Where do I live? Where was I born? In South Africa. Still there, still training. I won this belt from South Africa, I didn’t travel anywhere else. That was the only thing that I stated. So I never discredited anybody, but quite frankly, I don’t really care about how it rubbed him the wrong way. I don’t care.”

“I don’t really give a f*ck where he’s from, but I’ll show him who he is,” Adesanya responded.

Du Plessis, 30, clapped back, jibing Adesanya, 34, who said he recently took up golf during his time off.

“Whatever that means,” Du Plessis said. “I’m glad you took up golf because that’s a retirement sport. I can understand you start playing golf.”\

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 305.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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