It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks for South Africa’s Du Plessis. Unfortunately for him, it’s culminated with the absence of an opponent and fight for the April 9 pay-per-view in Jacksonville, Florida.
Initially set to fight fellow in-form 185lber Chris Curtis, “Stillknocks” found himself preparing for short-notice opponent Anthony Hernandez after “The Action Man” was forced out.
When the opportunity to face well-known contender Gastelum rose following visa issues for Nassourdine Imavov, Du Plessis took the opportunity with both hands, looking to make an impact on the PPV main card stage.
Unfortunately, that matchup was short lived, with the #10-ranked middleweight pulling out days after the new pairing was put together, suggesting he was “compromised” due to an injury.
With “Fluffy” Hernandez already matched against a new opponent, Du Plessis has been left off the card after making the lengthy trip across the world to the US. To say he’s not happy about it would be an understatement.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Du Plessis accused Gastelum of faking injury to avoid the clash. According to the South African, the Californian accepted the fight expecting an easy opponent. “Stillknocks” believes Gastelum and his team changed their minds after watching some tape.
“Whatever it is that I’ve been told, I do not believe one bit of it,” said Du Plessis. “He said it was an injury… who gets injured a week before a fight? You have to ask yourself, a week before the fight, what could you possibly be doing to get injured? If he was injured, you don’t know what the camp was like, but why did he insist on having a new opponent when Imavov had to pull out?
“He wasn’t injured on Monday because that’s why he insisted on the fight. All of a sudden he’s injured on Friday, an ‘undisclosed injury.’ That sounds very fishy to me… He just said, ‘Listen, I don’t know this guy at all.’ He doesn’t know me, he saw two fights, saw the record, 2-0 in the UFC. I guess they started watching tape and that’s where the problem started,” suggested Du Plessis. “He thought, ‘Let’s get this easy fight, get into the win column.’ Then he watched some tape and realized this is no walk-over fight… I’m above his level.”
Gastelum’s Manager Refutes Du Plessis’ Claims
Following Du Plessis’ claims, Gastelum’s manager, Dominance MMA Management CEO Ali Abdelaziz, responded via renowned MMA journalist John Morgan. Abdelaziz confirmed that Gastelum will be going under the knife for knee surgery next week.
“Spoke to @AliAbdelaziz00, who said @KelvinGastelum will undergo knee surgery next week. At that point, he’ll have a better understanding of Gastelum’s timetable for a potential return to action.”
If it becomes clear that Gastelum does indeed require an operation, perhaps Du Plessis will re-evaluate his remarks once he gets over the disappointment of his less-than-fruitful trip to America.
Nevertheless, should the Du Plessis vs. Gastelum matchup be put together again following the latter’s recovery, the foundation for some bad blood to fuel it has certainly been laid.
What do you make of Dricus Du Plessis’ theory on Kelvin Gastelum’s UFC 273 withdrawal?