While Dricus du Plessis’ was basking in his UFC 290 victory over former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in Las Vegas over the weekend, incumbent champion Israel Adesanya made sure he let the South African know just who the big dog still is.
Du Plessis was giving his post-match interview in the hexagon, when Adesanya entered the ring as he rained on the South African’s parade.
There had been existing tension between the pair as Du Plessis had said he will become the first “born, bred and trained African champion", which the Nigerian-born champion who now lives and trains in New Zealand Adesanya clearly didn’t like.
During a heated exchange, Adesanya farcically suggested Du Plessis do a DNA test to find out ‘just how African he is’.
Dricus du Plessis says Israel Adesanya is "behaving like a clown" and vows to "manhandle" him 😬 #UFC290— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 9, 2023
"That’s not how a champion behaves. That’s not how a man behaves. He’s behaving like a child. Conduct yourself like a champion." pic.twitter.com/tpuGLD7mTi
At that point Du Plessis, had enough and walked away to resume his celebrations.
After the fight, Du Plessis spoke about the incident with Adesanya in his press conference.
“He’s behaving like a clown in there. That’s not how a champion behaves. That’s not at all how a man behaves. He’s behaving like a child. Conduct yourself like a champion,” said Du Plessis.
“There’s people looking up to you, and you’re behaving like that. If that sells tickets, good for him. I’ll sell tickets in my way. I’m a gentleman, I’m a man, and I’ll behave like a man.”
“It’s usually the contender that goes into the cage, right? So even he sees me as the champion already. He knows I’m the champion, and now that he’s seen me in that cage, he knows what a force I am in there. He could feel the energy, and I could feel how insignificant he is to me when we get into that cage.”
As for a looming fight with Adesanya, Du Plessis said: “I’ll knock him out just like I did tonight. We saw his fight with Alex [Pereira]. If I get him to the floor, it is not even a fight. It’s not even a fight. If I just get my hands on him, it’s not even a fight. I will manhandle him. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.”