Dricus du Plessis to Israel Adesanya: ‘Be a man of your word’ and fight me

UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis said he’s still recovering from injuries and doesn’t want to jump back in the octagon “too soon.”

That said, du Plessis expects to face Israel Adesanya in the first defense of his title, and he has a challenge for the ex-champ.

“So you claim you want to drag my carcass around in South Africa, as you said,” du Plessis said on the “Hustlers Corner” video podcast. “So be a man of your word, and let’s do it.”

Du Plessis turned down a grudge match with Adesanya at UFC 300, citing injuries to his legs that he suffered in his title-winning performance against Sean Strickland.

But the middleweight champ said his team is working on booking the fight with Adesanya, whom he faced off with this past year after a win over ex-champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 290.

“We are trying,” du Plessis said of the title matchup. “We are talking, definitely. That’s what the people want to see, and that’s what I want to do. I want to fight the best guys. This is an entertaining sport.

“Who do I wanna fight? I don’t care, I’m the champion. I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me. But what I want in my heart is to fight the guy that the people want to see me fight.”

As for a timeline on the middleweight title fight, du Plessis said his advance in the 185-pound division took its physical toll. He said the majority of his recent fights were taken on less than full training camps.

“Now, with some injuries, [I’m letting that] recover and taking a little break,” he said. “But I want to fight two more times this year. For me, that would be ideal.”

Also ideal for the middleweight champ is a shot at Adesanya in South Africa. The 30-year-old fighter has repeatedly asked the UFC for all all-Africa title showdown. Numerous logistical hurdles stand in the way of that request, though UFC CEO Dana White has promised the promotion will land on the continent before he retires.

Du Plessis said MMA has been exploding in South Africa, and a showdown between he and Adesanya would be huge for the country. He previously told ESPN.com a June or July date would work best.

“We are entertaining people at the end of the day,” du Plessis said. “That’s part of our job.”

Check out du Plessis’ full interview below.

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