Dricus Du Plessis: Israel Adesanya win puts me in ‘conversation of being one of the greatest middleweights ever’

UFC middleweight champion Dricus Du Plessis is looking to separate himself from the pack after UFC 305.

Du Plessis (21-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) makes his first title defense against Israel Adesanya (24-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) in the UFC 305 headliner Aug. 17 at RAC Arena in Perth (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+).

Du Plessis emerged as No. 1 contender after a TKO finish of former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 290. He then went on to outlast Sean Strickland to claim the 185-pound title at UFC 297.

If he can beat Adesanya, Du Plessis thinks that elevates his name to one of the division’s best ever.

“I’ve always looked at Israel Adesanya as the benchmark,” Du Plessis told Fox West Texas. “Now Izzy became a champion a long time ago, and I’ve looked at him and always knew this is where I need to be if I ever want to be the best in the world. This is the benchmark.

“He is one of the greatest to ever do it, and this fight for me is going to put me in that position. This is where I take over as one of the greatest to ever do it. This is where my years of building and climbing that ladder is going to a point where I am now the guy that’s one of the greatest to ever do it.”

Du Plessis still feels underestimated but thinks beating Adesanya is what will finally earn him the respect he seeks and silence any doubters.

“He’s a very smart fighter,” Du Plessis said on Adesanya. “He figures out his opponents, and he sets a lot of traps. He does it incredibly well. So for me, this fight is just like how beating Robert Whittaker was. It’s a fight that people don’t think you’re going to win. It’s a hard fight.

“I’m fighting against arguably one of the greatest middleweights ever, and I have to go out there and prove that I am that guy. That’s what this fight is going to mean to me. It’s going to mean I told you I belong here. This fight is going to mean that Dricus Du Plessis is now in the conversation of being one of the greatest middleweights ever.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 305.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie