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'Their side didn't want it': Why Adesanya won't headline milestone UFC card

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Wed, 28 Feb 2024, 9:00pm

'Their side didn't want it': Why Adesanya won't headline milestone UFC card

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Wed, 28 Feb 2024, 9:00pm

Israel Adesanya has revealed he expected to fight for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 300 in Las Vegas in April, but the offer fell through.

There had been a lot of speculation about what fight would headline the promotion’s milestone event, which has been stacked with some of the promotion’s top talents. It was expected that one of the UFC’s bigger stars would headline the card, with Adesanya, heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former two-division champion Conor McGregor among the biggest drawcards on the roster.

McGregor has not been in action since July 2021 and is targeting a return later in the year, while Jones has been out injured since October last year. Jones told Submission Radio the UFC reached out to him earlier this month about headlining the card, but he declined as he didn’t feel like he would be ready to return by then.

Adesanya has been back training following a spell after losing the middleweight title to Sean Strickland in Sydney last September. Strickland lost the title to Dricus du Plessis in January, setting the pathway for Adesanya to return with a title shot against a rival he had a history with.

However, speaking on This Past Weekend with Theo Von, Adesanya said it was du Plessis’ team that didn’t agree to the bout at UFC 300.

“[The UFC] summoned me for 300. I was like ‘yup, OK. Let’s roll’ but their side didn’t want it,” Adesanya said.

“They just fought Strickland, so maybe he had a little bit of niggling injuries, but hey, we’ve all got little niggles and whatnot.

“I’ve fought injured for the last... how many fights? That’s why I took time off; to let my body heal. It has healed and I’m sure there will be more injuries. It just happens through training. It’s always something; your finger, your toe, your back, your leg, whatever it might be.”

Du Plessis was supposed to be the one to challenge Adesanya for the title last September but declined the fight due to injury. That bout also would’ve required a quick from his win over Robert Whittaker which was about two months out from the Sydney date.

Speaking to the Herald in January, du Plessis said it was the right decision to make although it wasn’t a popular one.

“It was one of those decisions where listen, I can’t control what happened here and you know, to go out there and say ‘Listen, no, it’s a title fight - you can’t say no’, yes, you can because that’s what I did. I wasn’t ready for that fight. I was injured and it wasn’t as if I had a long time.

“I got injured 18 days before the [Whittaker] fight, but starting your camp injured, it’s just not worth it. You’re not going to be prepared the way you should be during that time off.”

While a date remains to be set for Adesanya’s return to the octagon, UFC 300 will be headlined by his longtime rival Alex Pereira, who puts his UFC light heavyweight title on the line against Jamahal Hill - a former champion who relinquished the title due to injury early in 2023.

Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.

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