The High Stakes for Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 293

September 7, 2023
From: Spartacus

As UFC 293 approaches, the fight world is buzzing with anticipation over the middleweight title defence by Israel Adesanya against Sean Strickland. Yet, much of the conversation has shifted to the conspicuous absence of a key player—South African fighter Dricus du Plessis. Highly regarded for his skills and recently victorious over Robert Whittaker, du Plessis is noticeably missing from the grand stage, a development that has elicited insightful commentary from former middleweight and light heavyweight title contender, Chael Sonnen.

Sonnen, who hosts the popular podcast “Beyond the Fight,” offered a forthright assessment of du Plessis’s absence and its ramifications. “If Izzy wins, it appears it’s going to be du Plessis or [Khamzat] Chimaev should he beat Paulo Costa,” he elucidated. “Make no mistake, there is some marching orders. Israel has told du Plessis, ‘You need to be here. Step number one, you need to come here and you need to be here,’ for whatever reason, but he’s not joking about that.”

Sonnen did not mince words in predicting what could be a decisive moment for du Plessis’s future in the sport. “If he’s in the cage that night and he looks out and there’s no du Plessis, who did not do the one thing that Izzy told him you need to do, I don’t think he’s going to call him out… If du Plessis doesn’t go, I do not believe he’s going to be part of the story,” he stated.

The sentiment was further echoed by Israel Adesanya himself, commonly referred to as “The Last Stylebender,” who is preparing for his sixth title defence. During an interview with TheMacLife, Adesanya expressed his disbelief at du Plessis’s absence: “He didn’t? I just assumed he did. Idiot. He could’ve jumped in there and called me a [expletive], too.” 

This utterance illuminates the substantial stakes involved in this weekend’s proceedings. Dricus du Plessis had previously secured his status as a top contender with a win over Robert Whittaker, positioning him as a serious candidate for a title shot. However, his failure to show up at UFC 293 could constitute a glaring omission that might well relegate him to the sidelines of the middleweight division’s championship narrative.

The commentary by Sonnen and Adesanya has profound implications for the future course of the division. Sonnen has long been an astute observer of the sport, and his words often bear considerable weight. Adesanya, on the other hand, is not just a champion but a dominant force in the division who has a history of getting what he wants when it comes to future match-ups. “Who is Izzy going to call out after his match with Sean Strickland?” Sonnen posited. “He has never left the cage without letting us, the audience, know who’s next. And by the way, he’s gotten his way 100 percent of the time.”

These observations bring us to a critical juncture. Sonnen opines that Adesanya could well opt for a different route entirely—perhaps taking a shot at double-champ status—if du Plessis remains absent from the event. This adds another layer of complexity and intrigue to an already dramatic situation, opening the doors to a myriad of future possibilities for the middleweight division. 

As the clock counts down to one of the most awaited UFC events of the year, there is an undeniable air of suspense regarding how the night’s unfolding could impact not just the fighters in the cage, but also those beyond it. If Adesanya successfully defends his title, his post-fight interview could be a defining moment for the middleweight division, especially for du Plessis, who could be left waiting with bated breath.

While the spotlight will be on Adesanya and Strickland inside the Octagon, the spectre of Dricus du Plessis—conspicuously absent but not forgotten—will hang heavy over the proceedings. It’s a multi-layered drama that encompasses not only the athletes but also the strategic choices they make outside the ring, choices that—as Chael Sonnen sagely noted—could result in their exclusion from future storylines.

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