Dricus Du Plessis stands by African representation comments
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Dricus Du Plessis is not going to back down from his comments that have triggered many online, including UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
The South Africa native caused a stir in recent weeks when he questioned the African representation of middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, as well as former champions Francis Ngannou and Kamaru Usman, ahead of his UFC 285 bout in February.
Although Adesanya, Usman and Ngannou were born in Africa, Du Plessis took issue with those fighters claiming Africa while training and living abroad. Du Plessis fights out of Team CIT MMA in Pretoria near Johannsesburg, South Africa’s capital and largest city.
“Did those belts ever go to Africa?” Du Plessis asked reporters at UFC 285 media day. “As far as I know, they 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 (Saaiman), 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.”
Usman was vocal about his disapproval of those comments, but Adesanya took the most umbrage, at least publicly.
Speaking with Submission Radio, Du Plessis said his stance still remains: He lives in Africa and Adesanya does not, and that differentiates the two.
“I’ve never said the words ‘more African’ in my life,” Du Plessis said. “I didn’t say they were not African. I didn’t say they were not African. I stated facts. I am the only one in title contention ever to be born in Africa, live in Africa, reside in Africa and train there every single day. That was my statement.
“Some people say I’m backpedaling. I’ve never backpedaled. I’m sticking with that because that is the fact. I never said the words ‘I’m more African.’ I never said that they were not African or that they were fake Africans. I never said that in my life. I simply stated the facts.”
Despite saying on the show that Adesanya does represent Africa ‘100 percent,’ Du Plessis again pointed out he lives in Africa and Adesanya does not and accused the Nigerian champion of claiming other nationalities, as well.
“It seems to have struck a nerve with Israel Adesanya,” Du Plessis said. “It seems like he likes to be whatever fits him best, considering nationalities. He’s referred to himself as a Kiwi. He’s referred to himself as Chinese. He’s referred to himself as a Nigerian. At the end of the day, he’s born in Africa. He is African. But he does not reside here, and that is the fact. That is what makes me and him different.”