Dricus Du Plessis wants to fight Sean Strickland for the middleweight title.
Instead, “Stillknocks” is likely to be “forgotten” in favor of Khamzat Chimaev — or Paulo Costa — after the two middleweight contenders collide at UFC 294 next month in Abu Dhabi. That’s according to former two-division title challenger and current MMA analyst Chael Sonnen, who insists Du Plessis will be left by the wayside after passing on the chance to battle Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in Sydney.
“Chimaev vs. Paulo Costa just became a No. 1 contender’s match,” Sonnen told The MMA Hour. “It wasn’t originally. It was a No. 1 contender’s match for Chimaev if Chimaev wins. And then they were going to yank that rug and reveal it to us right after the fight in case [Chimaev] won. But now, because you’ve got a No. 1 champ at the top, Strickland vs. Paulo works all day long, Strickland vs. Chimaev, plus they trained together, it works all day long. That’s going to be a No. 1 contender’s match, and Du Plessis is going to get forgotten yet again.”
Strickland turned the division on its head with his bookie-busting upset win over Adesanya at UFC 293, which blew the division wide open and left a stunned Dana White campaigning for an immediate rematch. If matchmakers move forward with Strickland vs. Adesanya 2, that would leave Du Plessis in no man’s land, unless “Stillknocks” wants to fight the winner of Chimaev vs. Costa — a pretty tall order for any contender at 185 pounds.
“I don’t know what to do with Du Plessis, and I think that’s a really hard spot,” Sonnen continued. “Du Plessis once had this great attitude: ‘Put me on the undercard, I’ll fight anybody.’ And he proved it. He went out and fought Robert Whittaker, nobody not named Izzy Adesanya got the jump on him. He’s got to go after somebody else. But Du Plessis has also got to know what time it is.”
We’ll all know what time it is once UFC makes a decision on Strickland’s first title defense.