Dricus Du Plessis says Israel Adesanya would not have made it out of the first round had it been him and not Sean Strickland challenging for the middleweight world title at UFC 293.

Strickland shocked the world on Saturday night, scoring a decisive unanimous decision victory over ‘The Last Stylebender’ to claim his first piece of UFC gold in The Land Down Under. Going into the bout on relatively short notice, Strickland was a massive 7-to-1 underdog, but the often outspoken contender looked practically unbeatable, executing a picture-perfect game plan that saw him light up the two-time titleholder throughout the 25-minute affair.

Strickland nearly ended things early in the opening round after landing a right hand that sent Adesanya crashing to the canvas. ‘Tarzan’ swarmed the former champ and unleashed a flurry of strikes, but was unable to land the finishing blow.

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Appearing on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, top-ranked contender Dricus Du Plessis suggested that if it had been him and not Strickland in the UFC 293 main event, Adesanya would not have made it past the first round.

“He wouldn’t have gotten up from that flurry after Strickland dropped him,” Du Plessis said. “100%. If I fought that version of Israel Adesanya… Do you think Robert Whittaker would have beaten that version of Adesanya? Yes. That fight went a round-and-a-half with me and Whittaker. There’s no way [Adesanya] would have seen the second round.”

Dricus Du Plessis Promises Israel Adesanya a Shot at the Middleweight Title

Initially, Dana White suggested that a rematch between Strickland and Adesanya was the move to make, but the UFC CEO backpedaled on that suggestion while addressing media members following Tuesday’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series. Fight fans online overwhelmingly suggested that Strickland should defend his title against the division’s No. 1 ranked fighter, Dricus Du Plessis.

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“The belt is what interests me, Du Plessis told Helwani. “After that, we can do the Izzy fight. Right now, Sean Strickland has the gold and I want to fight Israel Adesanya, but not as bad as I want to fight for the belt. So I’ll make the promise that when I win that belt, [Adesanya] will be the first defense, 100%. But right now, Israel Adesanya is irrelevant to me. All my focus is on the guy with the title and that’s the guy I want to fight next.”

Adesanya and Du Plessis have been at odds ever since ‘Stillknocks’ suggested that he would one day become the UFC’s first true African world champion. That comment struck a chord with the Nigerian-born ‘Stylebender’ leading to a racially charged face-off following Du Plessis’ second-round knockout of Whittaker in July.

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Clearly, the two men still have some beef to settle inside the Octagon, but for now, Du Plessis is only focusing on whoever holds the gold.

Craig Pekios is a freelance writer born and raised in Bettendorf, IA. Joining LowKick MMA in May 2022, Craig has more than 2,500 articles published that focus on the world of mixed martial arts and boxing, including news, event previews, results, analysis, and op-eds. Aside from working with LowKick MMA, Craig has contributed to news outlets Overtime Heroics, Sportskeeda, and MiddleEasy.