Dricus Du Plessis confident he would have ‘manhandled’ Israel Adesanya

Dricus Du Plessis thinks he would have overpowered Israel Adesanya and made it look easy.

Du Plessis (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and Adesanya were on a collision course when Adesanya was middleweight champion, but the stars never aligned. Sean Strickland scored an upset by dethroning Adesanya and Du Plessis will now challenge Strickland for the middleweight title at UFC 297 on Jan. 20 in Toronto.

With Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) currently in a hiatus, Du Plessis implied that “The Stylebender” dodged a bullet.

“The Izzy fight is a fight where I honestly believe that I would’ve grabbed him and I would’ve manhandled him, to be honest,” Du Plessis told Submission Radio. “I know he has good takedown defense, but I don’t think people understand the difference between myself and Israel Adesanya.

“If I would’ve grabbed him, it would’ve been a very long night. Well, no, it wouldn’t have been a long night. Obviously, his striking is good. There’s no way Israel Adesanya knocks me out.”

Du Plessis has plans of chasing dual-champion status just like he did when he was an EFC fighter. If he gets past Strickland (28-5 MMA, 15-5 UFC) and becomes middleweight champion, settling his differences with Adesanya is still his No. 1 choice.

“I would still love to fight Israel Adesanya – 100 percent,” Du Plessis said. “It would be my first choice as a defense, to fight Israel. It’ll be great. But I’m assuming Khamzat’s the guy they’re going to try and push, so that’ll be cool. I do want to defend my belt. I do want to defend the belt before (moving up). Obviously, it’s all going to come down to who I beat and how good I make it look. If I go out there and I absolutely destroy Khamzat, what’s there really left? If I go out there and I beat Israel Adesanya after becoming champion, he’s wiped out the whole division.

“The two guys who wiped out the division was Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya. And beating those two guys doesn’t really leave any room left. But I’m a big guy. I can definitely hang with the guys at 205. I’ll be giving up a little bit of reach, but in terms of strength, power and size, I’m right there. But that’s talking down the line. For now, I have one goal, one goal only, and that’s Sean Strickland. And after that, the goal will shift on to whatever happens next. Of course, I want that double champ status. Everybody does. I think that’s almost became a norm. It’s beginning that status as a double champ, and I definitely also want that. I want to be in that 1 percent of the 1 percent.”

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie