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DDP: Win Over Khamzat Chimaev Won’t Warrant Title Shot for Robert Whittaker


Dricus Du Plessis (21-2) says Robert Whittaker (25-7) doesn’t deserve an immediate title shot even with a potential win over Khamzat Chimaev (13-0).

Whittaker will headline UFC Saudi Arabia against Chimaev on June 22 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh. This is the second top-tier matchup in the middleweight division in a single month, after Sean Strickland’s split decision win over Paulo Costa at UFC 302 on June 1.

Clearing some of the confusion in the middleweight title picture, du Plessis expressed interest in fighting Chimaev if he defeats Whittaker. However, for “Stillknocks” the same doesn’t apply to Whittaker if he beats Chimaev. The South African would like Whittaker to face Strickland in a title eliminator to earn another shot at the crown. But at the end of the day, Du Plessis being the champion is willing to face whoever the UFC puts him up against.

“Obviously, I have the world’s respect for Whittaker, I think he’s one of the greatest athletes ever,” Du Plessis said in an interview with Fight Wave. “And for Khamzat, [he’s an] exciting prospect in the middleweight division because he hasn’t been beaten. So, should he beat Whittaker, I would love to fight Khamzat. And in my opinion, should Whittaker beat Khamzat, I don’t think it warrants him a title shot. Honestly, [I] would love to see him and Strickland fight it out for a No. 1 contender fight. But if not, I was willing to fight Strickland, Adesanya, Khamzat. I’m the champion, I need to fight who they give me.”

Du Plessis defeated Whittaker via second-round TKO in their initial encounter at UFC 290 in July 2023 to earn a middleweight title shot against then champion Israel Adesanya. However, du Plessis delayed his first title shot due to a foot injury, paving the way for Strickland to dethrone Israel Adesanya via a dominant decision at UFC 293 in one of the biggest upsets in UFC title fight history. Du Plessis finally made his gold bid against Strickland at UFC 298 this past February, reeling in a razor-thin split decision. The South African was offered a slot to defend his title at UFC 300 against Israel Adesanya, but turned it down due to the short turnaround.
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