Dricus du Plessis of South Africa defeated Australian Robert Whitaker by TKO midway through the second round of their main fight at UFC 290 in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 9.
The fight, which was described by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White as a “title erasure,” sees du Plessis emerge as the number one contender for the middleweight belt, currently held by Israel Adesanya.
It was perhaps Du Plessis’ best overall performance in the UFC to date as the unconventional fighting style of the burly South African surprised the usually composed Whitaker, who had few answers.
It was a good weekend in sports for south africa on australia eg The Springboks beat the Wallabies Saturday night at Loftus Versfeld, before du Plessis catches an Australian player at the T-Mobile Arena facility in Paradise, Nevada, USA.
“Can you see how I’m breathing? I think I’ve done some chores in this whole camp… I’m lying. I told you I’ve had heart problems for days,” du Plessis told Joe Rogan after the fight, commenting on how his breathing problems had improved since His nose operation in April.
“Second, you guys have T-minus two hours to delete a whole lot of comments because I’m coming for these social media posts,” he continued, noting how he was written off by many as an underdog before the fight.
The win marks Du Plessis’ sixth consecutive UFC win since joining the promotion in 2020.
“Robert Whitaker hits hard and hits really fast. This really is the biggest honor I have had in my entire fighting career. To be able to share the cage with a legend, he was the man I had.” Fighters only [magazine] Du Plessis said in his admiration for the fighter who had only been defeated by Adesanya in the UFC’s middleweight division before.
Du Plessis was dominant throughout the scrimmage, countering Whittaker’s takedown attempt with a guillotine in the first round while remaining smart on defense, rarely leaving his face exposed to any potential vicious hooks or jabs of Whittaker.
The South African also successfully grazed Whittaker with an elbow during a late pound and ground round, causing the former division champion to bleed.
With the first turn slightly in favor of Du Plessis, Whittaker came out in the second trying to get back into the fight, but Du Plessis hit him hard with a straight right jab that left the Australian groggy mid-round.
Du Plessis didn’t give him any time to calm down, followed by an onslaught of punches to the face and body. Whitaker was unable to adequately defend himself before the fight was stopped in the third minute of the round.
“When I dropped him, he threw a left hook and I tried to get under him so I didn’t see him [Whittaker get stunned]The South African said after the fight.
“The next thing I saw was his hands on the canvas and I wanted to rush over but we all know I have a problem with that so I just tried to stay calm.
“I saw him fight with [Jared] Canonnier and with all the other combatants, as they turned south–for that I went out the southern night–right strokes really caught him, and as it happened, I saw that the beginning of the end.”
Adesanya steps in
While du Plessis was talking to Rogan in the octagon after his victory, Adesanya entered the cage with his security circle.
The two have an intimate history and bonded when Adesanya called Du Plessis his “African brother” before Du Plessis responded with “I’m African, but I’m not your brother.”
Although nothing has been confirmed, White mentioned the possibility of the two facing off at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia on September 10.
It would be a huge undertaking and perhaps one of the most amazing feats in UFC history for Du Plessis to beat long-term middleweight contender Whittaker as well as champion, Adesanya within nine weeks of each other.
Early on Saturday evening, another South African, Cameron Siman TKO’d America’s Terrence Mitchell, in the first round of their bantamweight fight.
Saiman displayed his excellent Brazilian fighting skills to outwit and outmaneuver Mitchell. Siman never let Mitchell let go of his grip from the start of the fight and finished it off with Mitchell on the stomach while unleashing a flurry of punches from the top to seal the TKO victory midway through the first round.
In the main event of the evening, there was a lone Australian victory as Aleksandar Volkanovski defeated Yair Rodriguez to successfully defend his Featherweight Championship.
While in the co-main event, Brazil’s Alexandre Pantoja defeated Brandon Moreno for the third time (including an exhibition match at The ultimate fighter) and became the new flyweight champion. DM