Kamaru Usman responded to Dricus Du Plessis recently saying that he was going to become a “legitimate” African champion in the UFC while calling out both Usman and Israel Adesanya. Needless to say, that take didn’t sit too well with the Nigerian native.
Currently ranked sixth in UFC’s middleweight division, Dricus Du Plessis (19-2 in MMA) is South African. His second-round TKO over Brunson was his seventh straight victory, and he’s been steadily moving up the rankings. Du Plessis made those controversial comments following his win over Derek Brunson at UFC 285.
He stated that since he lives and trains in Africa, he is a true African. He said that’s in contrast to native fighters and UFC Champions like Kamaru Usman, Francis Ngannou, and Israel Adesanya. It was especially considered to be aimed at Adesanya, the new Middleweight Champion.
Specifically Du Plessis was asked ahead of his fight against Derek Brunson at UFC 285, “Does it bum you out there’s not as much gold, potentially, going back the next time they go, or do you see this as an opportunity now, you do get to be the guy if and when they show up to Africa?”
He responded, “Well, I mean did those belts ever go to Africa? As far as I know it came to America and New Zealand. I’m going to take a belt to Africa. I’m the African fighter in the UFC. Myself and Cameron, we breathe African air. We wake up in Africa every day. We train in Africa. We’re African born. We’re African raised. We still reside in Africa. We train out of Africa. That’s an African champion. And that’s who I’ll be.”
While Kamaru Usman was less than impressed by what the fighter had to say. He responded to Du Plessis’ assertion.
“I saw it. And I guess the thing about me is just I’m not — I try not to be quick to jump on someone and really kill them for those things. I’m not part of this cancel culture,” he prefaced his criticism.
“Though I understand what he’s trying to say, but the one thing I think he’s failing to realize is just because I go to China, and my parents are in China, and I’m raised in China, that doesn’t make me more Chinese than people from China,” Usman said. “Just because you went over to South Africa, and you were raised there, that doesn’t make you African.”
He continued, “So I would just say to him, try to be a little bit more careful with what you say and how you say it.”
“That’s the thing nowadays. These younger guys and these newer guys, they get up here and they just talk because they want to appeal to the fans, appeal to the people, but try to be more mindful because 20 years from now, that’s not going to age well,” Usman added.
Kamaru Usman (20-3) is the former UFC Welterweight Champion, running his record to an impressive 20-1 before losing the title to Leon Edwards. He then lost a subsequent rematch to Edwards, as well.
Dricus du Plessis doubled back after the flare-up, saying his his initial comments had nothing to do with race.
“To bring color into it, for me, is the most ridiculous thing ever. That is the one thing from this whole thing that really pisses me off, to be honest, is that color was brought into it. I’ve never even mentioned color because it makes absolutely no difference to me. And to every single person that I know it makes absolutely no difference.”
“Color is not the topic of discussion,” he asserted. “And if anybody is bringing in color, is bringing in the fact that I’m white or they are black or any form of race in any way, that is to me absolutely ridiculous. This is a sport. This is fighting. Once you get into a sport, once you get into fighting, sport as a whole is what brings people together. There’s no place for race and mentioning of color at all.”
“I think people are making this an issue that is not there,” du Plessis later responded to comments Israel Adesanya also made in response to him. “This is, purely, two guys fighting. This is me vs. Israel Adesanya. For me, there is no, ‘I’m more African, you’re more African.’ I reside in Africa. He doesn’t. That is a fact. That is not my opinion. That is a fact. He’s African, his heritage is African, of course. But that does not change the fact that I want to be and will be the first African-residing champion.”