Israel Adesanya and 4 Other Fighters Who Could Challenge for Dricus Du Plessis’ Middleweight Title

Israel Adesanya and 4 Other Fighters Who Could Challenge for Dricus Du Plessis’ Middleweight Title

Byron Pillay
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
  • Dricus du Plessis defeated Sean Strickland to become the UFC's new Middleweight champion
  • Israel Adesanya could be next in line to fight South Africa's Du Plessis for his title in the future
  • Sean Strickland believes that he won the fight against Du Plessis and could ask for a rematch

Dricus du Plessis has claimed his spot atop the UFC’s Middleweight division, but now everyone else is coming after him.

Stillknocks became the fourth African champion in the organisation’s history when he beat Sean Strickland for gold at UFC 297.

Dricus du Plessis has a host of challengers who could fight him for the Middleweight title next.
Israel Adesanya is the favourite to fight Dricus du Plessis next, but he isn't the only one after the champion. Image: Chris Unger/ Jeff Bottari/ Mike Roach.
Source: Getty Images

With the South African becoming the division's new champion, Sports Brief looks at who could be in line to challenge him next.

Israel Adesanya

A fight between du Plessis and Adesanya is something that everyone wants to see.

The two African Middleweights were on a collision course before the Last Stylebender lost his title to Strickland.

The Nigerian-born New Zealander then opted to take a break away from the sport but could be tempted into returning after du Plessis won the belt.

Adesanya himself has teased on social media that their paths are meant to cross in the future.

Sean Strickland

Having lost his title via split decision in the main event, Strickland is eager to avenge the loss.

The American and South African went to war for the title, with the former champ falling just short.

Strickland has already claimed that he only lost because of a cut he suffered as the result of a headbutt. As noted by Sports Illustrated, he took to social media to show off the cut and insisted that he won that fight.

Even UFC President Dana White also believed that the former champ did enough to retain the title.

“I had it two to two going into the last round and I thought Strickland won the last round,” White told the media.

Khamzat Chimaev

Undefeated in the UFC, Khamzat Chimaev is eager to get that elusive title shot.

The Swedish national, who now represents the United Arab Emirates, was next in line to face Strickland before an injury forced him out of contention.

Chimaev beat Kamaru Usman to earn the title shot but tore a ligament in his hand, forcing him to relinquish his shot. Du Plessis stepped up to take his spot and won the belt.

Following the South African’s win, Chimaev took to social media to call out the champ while seemingly making a joke about his surname.

Jared Cannonier

Ranked fourth in the Middleweight division, Cannonier is not the first name that comes to mind as a potential title challenger.

The American fighter did lose to Adesanya in a title bout but has beaten Strickland before.

As noted by the Independent, Cannonier was also a backup fighter for UFC 293’s main event if Strickland had pulled out.

If Adesanya or Chimaev cannot fight, the UFC may turn to Cannonier as a potential option until their bigger stars are ready to return.

Alex Pereira

A former champion of the Middleweight division, Pereira made his way up to Light Heavyweight, where he won the title.

Poatan ("Hands of Stone") was also in Strickland’s corner at UFC 297 and got a close look at the South African.

Du Plessis even joked after the fight that he thought Pereira was stepping into the cage after the fight to challenge him next. While that was a joke for the champion, Pereira didn’t hate the idea.

Poatan recently teased that he was considering one last trip down to Middleweight to set up a battle against Stillknocks.

Du Plessis calls out Israel Adesanya

South Africa's Dricus du Plessis still wants a piece of Israel Adesanya, Sports Brief earlier reported.

The new Middleweight champion called out his rival after beating Sean Strickland for the title at UFC 297.

Adesanya and Du Plessis have been embroiled in a bitter feud that could be settled soon in the Octagon.

Byron Pillay photo
Byron Pillay
Byron Pillay is a sports writer and Head of the Department at Sports Brief (joined in 2022) with over 10 years of experience in community journalism and a degree in journalism from Caxton's Cadet School.