Mixed martial arts: South African Dricus du Plessis books UFC title fight with Kiwi Israel Adesanya

Kiwi champion Israel Adesanya has already fired opening shots at his next challenger, after South African Dricus du Plessis earned a shot at the title with victory at UFC 290.

Du Plessis has overpowered former champion Robert Whittaker in the second round of their contender showdown at Las Vegas, setting up a much-awaited meeting with the middleweight titleholder.

Adesanya, 33, has wasted no time accepting the challenge, entering the Octagon during post-fight formalities to size up the South African.

Auckland-born Whittaker has already fought and lost to Adesanya twice, surrendering his middleweight crown in October 2019 and failing to regain the belt in a February 2022 rematch.

Newcomer du Plessis entered the fight unbeaten in five UFC outings and showed his credentials with a comprehensive display that may now force Whittaker into retirement.

Nigerian-born Adesanya seems unimpressed.

"This is my African brother right here," he said. "Let's go n****r, what's up b***h."

Adesanya forecast this result in April, when he beat Brazilian Alex Pereira to regain his title, after losing it last November.

Du Plessis had already popped up on his radar, labelling Adesanya, Nigerian former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Cameroonian ex-heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou as "fake Africans". 

"Did those belts ever go to Africa?" DuPlessis said. "As far as I know, they came to America and New Zealand.

"I'm going to take a belt to Africa."

After dispensing with Pereira, Adesanya set his sites on the South African.

"I pray to God he keeps winning. I will gladly drag his carcass across South Africa."

Both now have their wish.

"I'm African, but I ain't no brother of yours," du Plessis retorted at Las Vegas.

"I manifested this," said Adesanya. "I said I was going to have this moment and I'm going to have this moment."

Mixed martial arts fans now await an official announcement on where and when that moment will arrive.