Dricus du Plessis awarded UFC title shot as the chance to make African history beckons

Dricus Du Plessis celebrates after defeating Robert Whittaker in a middleweight bout during UFC 290 at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada

South African UFC athlete Dricus du Plessis will finally get his title shot when he takes on current middleweight champions Sean Strickland on January 20 in Toronto. Picture: Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFP

Published Nov 7, 2023


“Suid Afrika, hulle weet nie wat ons weet nie” - was the phrase coined by South Africa’s UFC athlete, Dricus du Plessis, after his shocking stoppage win over former Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 earlier this year.

The line went viral across social media as South Africa’s fans and its world-class athletes, including the Springboks, lent the phrase to celebrate the rugby team’s success at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Now, Du Plessis can finally show the world what he knows when he steps into the UFC Octagon to fight for the coveted 185-pound UFC title.

UFC President Dana White confirmed late last night (SA time) on social media that Du Plessis would get his shot at the title when he faces current champion Sean Strickland on January 20 at UFC 297 - in Toronto, as per ESPN.

Good news for SA MMA

This announcement is welcoming news for the South African who remains unbeaten in the most popular and competitive MMA organisation in the world.

Following six fights, five stoppages, and one unanimous decision win, Du Plessis was set to face former champion and global combat sports icon Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 in September.

Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC), however, was unable to make an eight-week turnaround from his fight in July due to suffering a foot injury.

The UFC is renowned for icing out fighters - never mind their situation, and Dricus received no special treatment after he informed the promotion of his inability to put on a proper showing within eight weeks.

Instead of waiting for the South African to heal, the UFC then offered the fight to the lower-ranked and controversial Strickland, who produced one of the greatest upsets in the history of the UFC after he dominated the two-time champion over five rounds, winning the belt in the process.

The UFC would have continued to put Du Plessis on the back-burner as the promotion had plans to give Strickland his first title defensce against Russian-born star Khamzat Chimaev, who recently secured a majority decision win over former Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in a Middleweight fight at UFC 294.

Chimaev, however, suffered a torn ligament in his fight with Usman, a situation which has now re-opened the door for the number-two ranked Du Plessis to finally get his shot at the title and a take his chance to make history by becoming the first African-born, bred and trained UFC champion.

“It always works out the way it should. Here we go! The belt is coming home, South Africa,” said Du Plessis.


IOL Sport