International Fight Week is starting to heat up, and a title eliminator in the Middleweight Division is finally set. There has been quite the buzz around the division since Israel Adesanya recaptured his middleweight title at UFC 287 earlier this month by defeating Alex Pereira in their fourth bout overall and second MMA fight via. second-round knockout. Following the stunning win, questions began to rise on who was next for Adesanya who had previously “cleaned out” the division before losing to rival- Pereira at UFC 281 by 5th-round knockout.
Adesanya hinted at a potential opponent from South Africa at the event"s post-fight press conference, saying “I want to whoop his a** so bad. I want to do it in South Africa or Nigeria but he"s got to do work, he"s got to do something. Show me something so I can whoop that a** and I can show you history. I"ll remind you." Adesanya never mentioned a name, but all signs point to the South African- Dricus Du Plessis.
Since then, it seems that Adesanya is going to get at least one-half of his wish and that"s Du Plessis getting the chance to show Adesanya something when he takes on Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 during International Fight Week.
Dana White Announces More Fights
Dana White confirmed the Middleweight bout and some other important details a day after announcing a ton of new and exciting matchups throughout the rest of the year, “On Saturday, July 8th at UFC 290, we have a middleweight title eliminator. Former champion, Robert Whittaker whose only losses in the last nine years are to the champ- Israel Adesanya. He [Whittaker] will be taking on Dricus Du Plessis. Du Plessis has won seven straight fights and has finished six of them. The winner of that fight will fight Adesanya later this year, and that fight is targeted for Sydney, Australia."
White didn"t stop there and went on to mention most of the card including other new bouts added, “That"s just one fight that"s part of what"s going to be a huge International Fight Week. We already made Moreno vs. Pantoja for the UFC Flyweight Championship, plus we got Robbie Lawler vs. Niko Price, Dan Hooker taking on Jalin Turner, UFC 290 July 8th, International Fight Week in Las Vegas."
Whittaker vs. Du Plessis Whittaker
Second Ranked- Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) returned to the win column in his last fight when he defeated Marvin Vettori via. Unanimous Decision in September, last year. Whittaker is a former Middleweight Champion, defeating Yoel Romero for the interim title at UFC 213 and then later promoted to undisputed champion following Georges St-Pierre relinquished the title due to his retirement. Whittaker then went on to face Romero once again at UFC 225 but was deemed a non-title bout due to Romero"s weight miss, Whittaker won via. split decision in the “Fight of the Year."
Whittaker"s first official defense was against Adesanya, in which Whittaker lost due to a second-round KO. Whittaker then went on to win three straight against Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum and got his chance to face Adesanya again at UFC 271 in February 2022. This time, the fight was a lot closer, Adesanya won via. Unanimous Decision with scores of 48-47 x2 and 49-46.
Now, Whittaker is on the doorstep with the chance to defeat Du Plessis and get his trilogy bout with Adesanya in Australia.
Dricus Du Plessis (19-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) on the other hand, is ranked sixth in the division. The South African is also currently riding a seven-fight win streak. Du Plessis debuted in the UFC in October 2020, defeating Markus Perez via. first-round knockout. Du Plessis went on to defeat Trevin Giles, Brad Tavares, Darren Till, and most recently Derek Brunson at UFC 285 in March this year. Du Plessis won all five of those fights in rapid succession in just under 30 months, finishing four of the bouts. Quite the start to a UFC career.
Du Plessis has made headlines recently, talking of his desire to be the “first African champ" which angered Adesanya for his comments. It was also reported by Du Plessis" Head Coach- Morne Visser, Visser said via. Instagram that Du Plessis had been fighting with severe nasal and respiratory problems that have now been corrected in a recent surgery.
UFC 290 Full Card
UFC 290 is scheduled for July 8th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Keep in mind, the card is subject to change at any moment (via. Tapology).
- Featherweight Title Bout: (C) Alexander Volkanovski vs. (IC) Yair Rodriguez
- Flyweight Title Bout: (C) Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja
- Middleweight Bout: Bo Nickal vs. Tresean Gore
- Flyweight Bout: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Manel Kape
- Middleweight Bout: Robert Whittaker vs. Dricus Du Plessis
- Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Niko Price
- Lightweight Bout: Dan Hooker vs. Jalin Turner
What do you think of the UFC 290 fight card currently with the ‘new" additions and who do you have between Whittake and Du Plessis? Let us know in the comments below!
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