Dricus du Plessis refused to let Israel Adesanya dictate UFC 300 booking: ‘You are summoned when I say you’re summoned’

Dricus du Plessis will defend his title when he’s good and ready.

“Stillknocks” claimed the UFC middleweight championship with a hard-fought split decision win over Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 297. The damage sustained in that fight prevented du Plessis from making a fast return to training, which left him unable to consider another fight in the following months.

That meant du Plessis could not accept a fight with longtime rival Israel Adesanya that would have headlined UFC 300 this Saturday. Adesanya recently said he was “summoned” to fight du Plessis, but du Plessis has an explanation as to why he declined the booking.

“I was in a moon boot,” Du Plessis said on the Shadow Banned podcast. “I wasn’t able to train, because with a broken foot, it’s stationary, I couldn’t train. So now you want me to have a six-week camp to fight at UFC 300. [Against] one of the best people to ever do it. I don’t think people understand what it would mean to fight at 300, be the main event. That’s life-changing s***.

“But even talking about the financial side of it, for people that were wondering, I didn’t want more money. The money they offered me was great. For me, it’s a legacy thing. Going out there, after performing the way I’ve been performing and going out there and not being 100 percent really, and people saying, ‘Why aren’t you taking the risk?’ I’ve taken the risk every fight. I’ve been injured for a couple of fights, the Whittaker fight especially. Just jumping to fighting, I’ve fought three times in seven months. That’s taking a risk. Once you get the title, you don’t have to make those risks, because it’s not an opportunity, it’s an opportunity for the contender, not mine. I declined fighting. It was with a heavy heart I had to decline UFC 300 because what an amazing privilege it is to be headlining that card.

“But Izzy saying he’s been summoned, no. You are summoned when I say you’re summoned.”

Du Plessis has since proposed that he and Adesanya fight on Aug. 17 at UFC 305 in Perth, Australia. A matchup between the two has been inevitable ever since they came face-to-face inside the octagon following du Plessis’ win over Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 in July 2023.

Adesanya was in line to defend the middleweight title against du Plessis at UFC 293, but again injuries prevented du Plessis from making a quick turnaround. Instead, Adesanya went on to lose his title via an upset loss to Strickland.

That led to Strickland and du Plessis facing off in Toronto this past January. The winning fighter would likely be in consideration to compete at UFC 300, but after edging out a decision over Strickland, du Plessis knew he was in no shape to make the April 13 date.

“I knew going into this fight, UFC 300 is probably going to be a possibility. It was discussed, but was never official,” Du Plessis said. “… If you look at that [Strickland] fight, I don’t think people realize what that feels like. It’s easy to sit there and say, ‘He walked out of the cage.’ Yes, because I don’t know if you know what adrenaline is and I’m tough and you’re not. I mean, you saw the next morning, I was in a wheelchair.”

On his way up the ranks, du Plessis made a name for himself taking on some of the UFC middleweight division’s most established contenders. He knocked off Whittaker, Derek Brunson, Darren Till, Brad Tavares and others en route to his title shot.

That hectic pace to start his career took a toll on him and now that he’s the champion being chased, he wants to take his time when it comes to signing his next bout agreement.

“I would have been in camp for two weeks,” Du Plessis said. “I’ve only started training again and being able to move on my foot for the last week. That doesn’t make sense. So yeah, I declined 300 at the end of the day, and it was with a heavy heart. It wasn’t easy to decline a fight like that and it wasn’t easy to decline a payday like that or the legacy that in itself would have been. That’s the fight game.”

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