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Dricus Du Plessis feels that Khamzat Chimaev does not deserve a title shot

LockerRoom Team
14 January 2024

In the lead-up to UFC 297's main event clash with Sean Strickland on January 20 at Scotiabank Arena, Dricus Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has made it clear that if he emerges victorious, Khamzat Chimaev's aspirations for a middleweight title shot will have to take a back seat.

While Chimaev (13-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) was initially named as the next contender after defeating Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 in October, he revealed lingering hand injuries and health complications that hindered his ability to secure the title fight. Despite expressing expectations of facing Strickland next, Du Plessis holds a different perspective, deeming a matchup with Chimaev for a potential first defense illogical.

“As far as I know, Khamzat’s a welterweight,” Du Plessis stated to MMA Junkie. “What middleweight did he fight? He fought at middleweight, but he fought a welterweight (in Usman). Gerald Meerschaert? When was that? Was he even ranked? No, he wasn’t ranked. So, that makes absolutely no sense."

Du Plessis, 29, aims to be "unapologetically himself" as the potential UFC middleweight champion. Expressing his views on the weight class, he challenges the notion of Chimaev's guaranteed title shot, asserting that the logical contender should be someone like Israel Adesanya.

While the direction the UFC will take in the event of Du Plessis claiming the belt remains uncertain, the South African fighter remains undeterred. His primary focus is on the impending clash with Strickland, and he exudes confidence that the future will unfold in his favor.

“This fight, just like every other fight, has consumed me,” Du Plessis emphasized. “The title has always been the next step. Step closer to the title and closer to the title. Right now, my step, the one big step – but far from the final step – is fighting for that belt. In my mind, my whole life can stop on that night. I’ll win or I’ll die trying. My life and my mind stop after that fight."

ALSO READ | Khamzat Chimaev warns Sean Strickland, says he is representing all Muslims

He continued, "After that fight, my whole life is in front of me. This, to me, is the end for me because this has been the goal for such a long time. This goal. I don’t really care what happens after that for now. I’ll start thinking about what happens after that when we get there. Then my planning starts with the rest of my career. I’m really excited for that part because it’s even more spectacular. But for now, this is the end of Dricus not as a champion. That ends next week. Saturday.”

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