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Keeping Tabs: Dricus Du Plessis

In the wake of UFC 294, the immediate buzz has revolved around Khamzat Chimaev’s potential title shot against current champion Sean Strickland.  Amidst the chaos of a card with two last minute replacements, fans have quickly forgotten about Dricus Du Plessis.  Not long ago, Dricus defeated Robert Whittaker in a stunning upset.  The win seemingly made Du Plessis the de facto number one contender.  After a heated exchange with Israel Adesanya in the octagon, Du Plessis seemed to be on a collision course with “Stylebender.”  However, with Dricus unable to make the turnaround to compete at UFC 293, Sean Strickland stepped in to face Adesanya.  Sean’s dramatic upset over Israel threw a major spanner in the works.

Initially, the promotion seemed keen on giving Adesanya a rematch.  Recently, however, the former champion has announced his intention to take an extended break.  Even so, Khamzat Chimaev’s highly anticipated return to competition has suddenly stolen the show.  Chimaev’s close win over Kamaru Usman has suddenly propelled the former welterweight standout into title talks.

Image – MMA Weekly

Dricus Du Plessis has built an impressive resume so far in the UFC’s middleweight division.  He scored notable wins against top contenders such as Derek Brunson and Darren Till.  Most fans and analysts, however, pegged him as a huge underdog against Robert Whittaker. Dricus had demonstrated questionable cardio and fight IQ, which people expected Whittaker to exploit.  Despite his losses to Adesanya, Whittaker had clearly cemented himself as the division’s number one contender.  Dricus shocked the world by finishing Whittaker in the second round.  Moreover, he scored an emphatic takedown at the end of the first round.  This win was no fluke, as Dricus absorbed solid strikes from Whittaker early on.  Du Plessis adjusted quickly and dominated Whittaker in the grappling exchange before decisively stopping him.                                                                                                                                                               

Regardless of whether Du Plessis gets the next title shot or not, he has undoubtedly cemented himself as a top contender in the division.  With his current momentum and physical gifts, he presents a unique problem for anyone in the division.  The South African standout may have taken a back seat for now, but he will not be far from the title. 



Image – talkSPORT

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