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UFC champion Dricus du Plessis clears the air on UFC 300 rumours

UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis explained why he couldn't feature on the upcoming mega card at UFC 300 in April.

With cash cow Conor McGregor seemingly in the wind and heavyweight Jon Jones injured, the brains trust at UFC have been looking for the next best thing. 

On comedian Theo Von's podcast, former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya revealed that he was summoned by the UFC overlords for a potential clash with du Plessis at UFC 300. The future Hall of Famer said du Plessis' camp refused the fight, but crucially, didn't mention any details.

Now, the champ has had his opportunity to give his side of the story. Speaking to teammate and fellow UFC fighter Cameron Saaiman in an interview on his YouTube channel, du Plessis squashed the idea that he didn't want to be on the card. 

"Why wouldn't I want to fight!?" quipped the Pretoria native.

"Do you know what the payday would look like!? It will go down in history as one of the biggest events ever... of course I wanted to be a part of that.

"But there is one thing that matters to me more than being on a massive card like 300, and that is being able to defend my title… and doing it in spectacular fashion. Sure, I can take him down and hold him if I want to, he can't stop that. I can do that for five rounds, but I don't want to fight like that. I entertain… that's why I have so many performance bonuses."

And he has a point. In his seven UFC outings, du Plessis has earned Performance of the Night twice and Fight of the Night on two occasions. 

Du Plessis has been open about the beating his legs took - on offence and defence - in his title fight with Sean Strickland at UFC 297 in January. If he adopts a wrestle-heavy approach to protect his injuries, he may come up short.

"I'm injured," continued the 30-year-old. 

"I only started training on my feet, boxing, last week. [UFC 300] is six weeks away, I'm not gonna do that, unfortunately."

Fans may accuse du Plessis of ducking Adesanya - as their match-up was also in the works at the end of last year - but he assured them this is not the case.

"We are not friends, but one thing I can't take away from Israel Adesanya is that he is one of the greatest middleweights to ever do this," he added.

"And I want to defend my belt against him, I don't want to fight anyone else. I want to fight the next best guy."

UFC 300 takes place in Las Vegas on 14 April with Alex Pereira putting his light-heavyweight belt on the line against Jamahal Hill in the main event, while women's strawweight champion Weili Zhang faces Yan Xiaonan.

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