New middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis has shed more light on a viral video showing him sparring with Alexander Volkanovski, revealing he also did wrestling and grappling rounds with Israel Adesanya a decade ago.
And du Plessis, who became the first South African UFC champion last weekend, says he “destroyed” Adesanya in those sessions.
Footage of a 19-year-old du Plessis, with just two professional fights under his belt, sparring Volkanovski – who also still hadn’t made his UFC debut at the time – went viral in the build-up to DDP’s title fight with Sean Strickland.
The pair are seen sparring in Thailand, before Adesanya appears in shot, moving with another fighter.
Adesanya posted the short clip to his own social media when du Plessis called him out immediately after his split-decision victory over Sean Strickland.
‘Stylebender’ hinted at a future showdown between the pair by captioning the clip: “This arc in my story was written long ago. Our paths are destined to cross again.
“Stay tuned for the next episode, thanks for watching. We Write History.”
Du Plessis says he remembers those training sessions in Thailand well, and revealed that there’s more to the story.
“I remember that encounter – me and Izzy, we trained together too,” du Plessis told this masthead. “I remember he said that I got the better of him on the ground – wrestling – and he pieced me up in the stand-up.
“I remember – I have a good memory – and I know for a fact that we didn’t do a single round of striking.
“We only did wrestling and grappling. And I destroyed him.
“Me and my brother, he’s four years older than me, we often talk about that. He remembers that as well.
“It wasn’t a fight when it came to the wrestling and grappling, and obviously he (Adesanya) got a lot better, but so have I – that was 10 years ago.”
Du Plessis joked that there hasn’t been any vision of him working with Adesanya from those sessions.
“That footage is conveniently not there,” he laughed.
A long-awaited grudge match between du Plessis and former champion Adesanya is the logical next fight for the UFC to make.
The pair were initially slated to fight at UFC 293 in Sydney after Adesanya confronted du Plessis in the cage moments after DDP’s victory over Rob Whittaker in July.
Injury ruled ‘Still Knocks’ out of that bout, but du Plessis still wants the fight to happen.
“We owe the people that fight,” du Plessis told this masthead.
Du Plessis raised the possibility of the fight headlining the UFC’s first ever card held in Africa, but also kept the door open for a bout at April’s UFC 300 blockbuster in Las Vegas.
“I’m banged up now, but I’m up for another round right now,” he said after beating Strickland. “I don’t want to put a timeline on it, but UFC 300 sounds amazing.”
Adesanya has been out of action since his loss to Strickland in September, but if he isn’t available to fight du Plessis, the new champ has no shortage of possible title challengers.
Former middleweight, and current light-heavyweight champion Alex Pereira hinted he’d be interested in another 185-pound title fight, while Khamzat Chimaev is agitating for a shot at the belt.
Australia’s Rob Whittaker can also prove he’s still a major player in the division with a win over Paulo Costa at UFC 298 next month.