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UFC 305: UFC To Return To Perth; Israel Adesanya vs Dricus du Plessis To Be Explored For Main Event

Israel Adesanya is waiting for a date.

It’s been six months since he lost the UFC middleweight title to Sean Strickland and, after taking some time away to refresh and recover, the 34-year-old has set his sights on reclaiming the throne.

That return was expected to eventuate at next month’s UFC 300 event in Las Vegas in a challenge against the new middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis, who took the title from Strickland in January. Instead, a light heavyweight title fight between champion Alex Pereira and Jamahal Hill was announced as the main event for the milestone event.

Eugene Bareman, Adesanya’s coach at Auckland’s City Kickboxing, admitted it was a surprise not to get the call for UFC 300. He told the Herald they had been in camp working towards dethroning the South African champion when the main event was confirmed, but said there was no question as to what was next for his fighter.

“Israel will be fighting for the title next,” Bareman said. “The date, I’m not sure. Give us a date and we’ll take it. We’re sitting ready to go.”

That date might be on the horizon – and a little closer to home.

The UFC will return Downunder on August 18, with Perth playing host to UFC 305. The Herald understands the promotion will explore booking Adesanya’s bid to become a three-time middleweight champion at the top of the bill.

While there have been no talks about that as it stands, the Herald understands Adesanya’s team shares the UFC’s interest in booking the fight for Perth.

The timing works well from a wider sporting standpoint too. The Wallabies host the Springboks in Perth for their Rugby Championship clash on the same weekend, and a bout between Adesanya and du Plessis would make it a massive weekend for Australian, New Zealand and South African sports fans.

While the fight didn’t come together for UFC 300 – du Plessis turned the bout down due to injury – Adesanya seemed content on waiting for du Plessis to be ready to fight. The August date would give both fighters plenty of time to prepare and would ensure the UFC has a title fight featuring an athlete from the Oceania region in the main event.

“Israel’s pretty adamant that he has to fight for the title,” Bareman told the Herald. “It’s not up to Du Plessis. If that was the case, I wish Israel as a champion had those sorts of choices. The truth is, he probably didn’t.”

The fight was supposed to happen in Sydney last September. However, du Plessis had to decline the bout due to an injury. Strickland got the call-up instead and beat Adesanya in a lopsided decision.

While Adesanya hasn’t fought since then, no one could begrudge the UFC booking him in a title fight for his return given his body of work with the promotion. As champion, Adesanya was as active as they come – competing in 11 UFC title fights across two divisions between mid-2019 and late 2023. He holds a 13-2 record in the UFC’s middleweight division, and with wins over several of the division’s elite.

Bareman said since Adesanya had returned to the gym after taking time off following the loss to Strickland, he was looking in fine form.

“I would say, in my opinion, for the first time in his career he probably deserved that break,” Bareman said.

“I felt like some of his other breaks he probably could have not had a break, but I thought if he ever deserved it, it was after the Strickland fight.

“Just a bit of wear and tear, and you could see just the weight of the sport and the years of doing on it was weighing on him a little bit. If he ever deserved a break, it was then, and he had one. As a result of that break, he’s come out on top.”

nzherald.co.nz

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