WATCH: Israel Adesanya and Dricus du Plessis train together in old sparring footage

By Josh Evanoff - January 23, 2024

The rivalry between UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis and Israel Adesanya has been a long one.

Israel Adesanya, Dricus du Plessis

‘Stillknocks’ is fresh off his return at UFC 297 over the weekend, against Sean Strickland. For ‘Tarzan’ the bout was his first since a unanimous decision win over Israel Adesanya in September, which saw him win middleweight gold. Unfortunately for Strickland, his title reign is now over thanks to Dricus du Plessis.

The South African emerged with a split-decision win on Saturday night, winning UFC gold in the process. Following the victory, Dricus du Plessis got on the microphone and called out Israel Adesanya. Later, he clarified that he would love to face ‘The Last Stylebender’ at UFC 300 in April.

In the post-event press conference, Dana White approved Dricus du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya. While the former champion might not be ready for April, the company seems interested in booking the middleweight clash next. If the fight is booked, it will be the culmination of a rivalry long in the making.

Beyond the two’s heated feud, which started last summer, they have a brief history of training together. While Dricus du Plessis didn’t train with Israel Adesanya for long, some footage has been released. In a clip uploaded to YouTube quite a while ago, the South African was seen sparring with Alexander Volkanovski.

While sparring ‘The Great’, Dricus du Plessis bumped into a young Israel Adesanya. The two seemed apologetic at the moment, but the situation would obviously play out differently today.


Israel Adesanya and Dricus du Plessis seen training together in 2016 sparring footage

While the clip of these two sparring is new, they’ve each spoken about their time together in the past. For his part, Israel Adesanya has alleged that while he lost the grappling exchanges, he had success against Dricus du Plessis on the feet. According to the South African, that never even happened.

“We trained in Thailand together,” Dricus Du Plessis told The Schmo in an interview last year, speaking about Israel Adesanya. “I think I was 19 years old at the time. He had quite a record in MMA already back then. I was 3-0 when we trained together. He said I beat him in the grappling exchanges. He is 100 percent correct in that.” (h/t Daily Mail)

He continued “I did manhandle him in the grappling and wrestling exchanges, but we did not do a single round of striking together. Not one. That was his way of saving himself, saying, ‘Yeah, but I beat him in the striking’. We never did striking together. Not one round. When we sparred, we grappled and we wrestled. We never did one single round of striking together. Not as far as I know and that’s something you would remember.”

What do you make of this news? Do you want to see Dricus du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya next? Who do you have winning in that middleweight bout?


Dricus du Plessis Israel Adesanya UFC