Israel Adesanya will make his octagon comeback at UFC 287 next month, but if he succeeds in retaking the middleweight title, a challenger is already waiting in the wings. Dricus du Plessis stated that he would like to compete against “The Last Stylebender,” but insisted he would not take on Paulo Costa.
Following his victory over Derek Brunson at UFC 285 in the post-fight press conference, “Stillknocks” said:
“They might be keeping an eye on Izzy and [Alex] Pereira, in my opinion. It makes sense that if Izzy defeats Pereira, I will be the only top-five opponent he hasn’t faced. I’m not sure what they plan to do if Pereira wins, but at the end of the day, it’s likely going to be a title fight or a fight between No. 1 contenders. With either of those, I’m content.”
Israel Adesanya will have beaten each of the top five middleweights if he wins at UFC 288, but a trilogy versus Alex Pereira may possibly be planned. Dricus du Plessis stated that he would be content with a battle between No. 1 contenders, despite his desire to compete for the title.
, provided Paulo Costa is not his rival, adding: “Paulo Costa had the opportunity. He’s currently behind me, so I’m not even paying attention to him. He was previously called out by me since he was rated above me, but he is now free to wait in line.”
Although Robert Whittaker was touted as a potential opponent, Du Plessis pointed out that the No. 2 middleweight seemed set to meet Khamzat Chimaev. ‘Stillknocks’ had requested a matchup with Paulo Costa after defeating Darren Till at UFC 282.
Israel Adesanya’s return: Dricus du Plessis believes ‘The Last Stylebender’ will reclaim the middleweight throne
In three fights thus far, Israel Adesanya has lost to Alex Pereira twice in kickboxing and most recently in mixed martial arts. In an interview with The Schmo prior to UFC 285, Dricus du Plessis expressed his optimism that the top-ranked middleweight will eventually defeat his opponent:
“I actually see Adesanya regaining that crown. I simply believe that Adesanya’s mindset is to defeat this opponent who has been taking food off his table for so long, and I believe that this will result in a different kind of player. Perhaps we will see the old Adesanya return, throwing there instead of playing it safe, and that will make a significant difference. I genuinely think I’m going up against Adesanya for that belt.”
Israel Adesanya is still the -145 betting favourite despite Alex Pereira, who he has lost to three times and never won against. The middleweight champion is also a +125 underdog because of how evenly contested each fight has been.