Chael Sonnen, has voiced his opinion that the scheduled title eliminator between middleweights Robert Whittaker and Dricus du Plessis should be cancelled immediately. The bout is due to take place on July 8, with the winner set to become the next challenger to current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. However, Adesanya has already made it clear that he wants to fight du Plessis next, following an ugly confrontation between the two fighters sparked by du Plessis questioning Adesanya’s status as a true African champion.
Sonnen believes it doesn’t make sense for the UFC to potentially miss out on the opportunity for an Adesanya grudge match, by booking the Whittaker vs. du Plessis fight instead. Sonnen suggests that the UFC should never have agreed to the Whittaker vs. du Plessis matchup, but instead should have arranged for du Plessis to fight Adesanya directly.
Adesanya has repeatedly stated that he will not fight anyone else until he gets the chance to face du Plessis, regardless of whether the South African fighter loses to Whittaker or not. Sonnen acknowledges that while he understands the need for the UFC to maintain control, and not bow to demands from fighters, Adesanya has earned the right to be selective about his opponents.
Whittaker is considered by many to be the second-best middleweight in the division, with odds heavily in favor of him winning his upcoming fight against du Plessis. In the event that Whittaker does win, the UFC has already guaranteed that Adesanya will face Whittaker for the third time. However, with du Plessis riding a perfect 5-0 UFC record, and extreme animosity between du Plessis and Adesanya, Sonnen questions why the UFC would risk missing out on such a high-profile clash of personalities.
Sonnen is critical of the UFC’s marketing strategy, highlighting that he will need to promote the Whittaker vs. du Plessis fight because neither fighter is promoting it themselves. He notes that if it were his fight, three weeks out from the event, everyone would know the what, when, and where, because he would have mentioned it so many times by then.