South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis set the world alight at UFC 290 when he stopped former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the second round of their main card bout in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday morning.
Despite landing one or two well-selected and clean shots, the Australian battled to find his rhythm and failed to figure out the unorthodox style of Du Plessis.
In the first round, the former number-five ranked South African delivered good combinations on attack and defense, cutting Whittaker with an elbow.
Close to the end of the first five minutes, Du Plessis secured a headlock and a takedown, where he went to work and finished the round strong, as he rained down punches to the head and body just before the buzzer.
During the break, Whittaker’s corner warned him not to grapple or get into close range with Du Plessis, but in the second round, it was the South African’s straight right that marked the end of Whittaker.
Du Plessis mixed up his combos well as he delivered a powerful straight right, a few dependable jabs and body shots that dropped Whittaker.
As Whittaker hit the canvas, Du Plessis remained calm and composed, choosing his shots as Whittaker covered up before the referee stepped in to call an end to the fight at 2 minutes and 23 seconds.
“South Africa, they don’t know what we know,” said Du Plessis in Afrikaans shortly after his win to the camera.
When interviewed by Joe Rogan, Du Plessis called out all those fans on social media who criticized his cardio - stating: “I have cardio for days, you better delete those comments, I am coming for that social media,” he said with a chuckle.
“It was an honor to share the cage with Robert. I had a poster of him growing up, and to compete against such gentlemen and champion is an absolute honor for me, thank you, Robert,” added Du Plessis.
Shortly after his post-fight interview, Du Plessis faced off with incumbent champion Israel Adesanya as a heated exchange commenced before officials broke things up.
Huge congrats to South African MMA and South Africa, period! That is an incredible win for them inside the UFC’s Octagon! Title fight next for sure!— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 9, 2023
Let’s go S.A 🇿🇦 ❤️
There has been ongoing beef between the two after Du Plessis first stated that he will become the first “born, bred and trained African champion", which didn't sit well with the Nigerian-born champion who now lives and trains in New Zealand.
If all goes well, Adesanya and Du Plessis could meet at UFC 293 in Sydney on September 10, however, it all depends on whether Du Plessis will be ready for that fight.
Du Plessis’ win also captured the attention of global superstar and former double champion Conor McGregor who took to Twitter to congratulate the athlete and South Africa for the achievement.
“Huge congrats to South African MMA and South Africa, period! That is an incredible win for them inside the UFC’s Octagon! Title fight next for sure! Let’s go S.A”