‘Has Israel Adesanya done as much for MMA in Nigeria as he has done in New Zealand?’

Dricus Du Plessis celebrates after defeating Robert Whittaker in their middleweight bout at UFC 290. Photo: Steve Marcus/AFP

Dricus Du Plessis celebrates after defeating Robert Whittaker in their middleweight bout at UFC 290. Photo: Steve Marcus/AFP

Published Jul 13, 2023


The Extreme Fighting Championship vice president of Talent and Matchmaker, Graeme Cartmell, weighed in on why Dricus du Plessis called out Israel Adesanya for not residing in Africa as the middleweight champion.

The feud between Du Plessis and Adesanya is brewing now more than ever before.

Like with many UFC newcomers, fans around the world saw Du Plessis as just another loud-mouthed wannabe trying to secure a big money fight.

Little did they know that the South African had a whole vision of what he wanted to achieve written down. And, most importantly, Du Plessis has always had a bigger ‘WHY’; inspiring people back in South Africa and Africa as a whole.

His true character showed when he decided to go through Robert Whittaker first before getting to Adesanya, despite the UFC wanting to draw-up a contract for that title shot.

This is because Du Plessis knew that Whittaker was the number one contender in the middleweight division and that he had never been beaten by anyone except the champ over the past decade.

In his eyes, it was only fair to go through Whittaker first to leave no doubt of his earning of the title shot.

Du Plessis went on to beat Whittaker at UFC 290 and is now set to fight Adesanya on his own terms, and having earned Whittaker’s respect, and that of every fighter in the division having maintained an eight-fight winning streak.

In an exclusive interview with IOL Sport, EFC Matchmaker, Cartmell believes that talent in Africa has always been abundant and that the rest of the world is missing out due to its own ignorance.

“I have so much to say because we’ve been doing this for so long man,” said Cartmell who has been with the EFC since its inception in 2009.

“I put out a video almost two years ago and I said, ‘UFC and the world you are sleeping on this (African) talent. You don’t know.’” He added.

Du Plessis' comments on Adesanya being less African infuriated Adesanya so much that the champ started responding.

Cartmell weighed in on what Du Plessis really meant and what the South African is trying to achieve in the UFC.

“Du Plessis is doing the opposite of what a lot of the African athletes did by moving overseas like the Israel Adesanyas and the Kamaru Usmans, and all those guys that are doing as well,” said Cartmell.

“He wants to turn the lens back into his country and say ‘there’s more of this talent where I’m coming from’.

“That’s what Dricus has done that those guys haven’t done, and he is calling them out in many ways.

“Dricus has gone ‘hang on a second guys, you have had amazing careers. You have done great for New Zealand MMA, but have you done great for Nigerian MMA? Why haven’t you turned the spotlight?’

“Dricus has decided that let’s turn the spotlight to Africa and let’s cultivate this talent and grow. That’s his message.” He added.

Du Plessis' victory this past weekend really lifted the EFC’s spirits up and that of all of African MMA.

Cartmell says it’s time for Africa to shine in the world of MMA.

“I feel like the floodgates have just opened,” said Cartmell.

"It will be like when the Brazilian athletes first joined the UFC. It will be the same story line of — ‘oh another Brazilian Champion. Oh he’s fighting a Brazilian athlete, he’s going to lose.’

“That’s what people will be saying of African athletes. They are just physically more dominant than anything the world has seen. Physically, they are superior. Strength-wise, the world has no idea, these guys are raw.

“If you cultivate and shape all than natural talent with a little bit of skill and good coaching and build a team.

“We want to build on top of what Dricus is doing with his vision for South Africa and African MMA.”

Cartmell left a bold prediction on the Du Plessis and Adesanya fight scheduled for September.

“I think Du Plessis will drag Adesanya to the floor and submit him in under three rounds,” said Cartmell.

“I think people look down on how Robert Whittaker was one of the most prolific fighters in the UF, Dricus minced him,” he added.


IOL Sport

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