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Dricus Du Plessis admits fighting Robert Whittaker ‘not the smart move,’ explains why he accepted UFC 290 fight

Dricus Du Plessis is well aware of the chatter surrounding his latest career move.

There’s been plenty of criticism from fans and pundits on the UFC’s decision, as well as Du Plessis’ acceptance of it, to matchup him up against former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker instead of current champ Israel Adesanya.

Du Plessis (19-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) takes on Whittaker (24-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) at UFC 290 on July 8 in Las Vegas. And given Du Plessis’ unbeaten streak in the UFC, as well as being a fresh matchup and having bad blood with the champion, many thought he was the obvious choice to make for the next title challenger.

“A lot of people are saying it’s not the smartest move to fight Whittaker and 100 percent, I agree with that,” Du Plessis told Submission Radio. “I agree it’s not the smart move, but I’m not here to be smart. Otherwise, I would’ve stayed in school and finished my studies, gone to work at a bank, wear a suit to work every day, and do some corporate life. But that’s not the life I chose. I chose to be a warrior, to be an entertainer, and at the end of the day, I’m a fighter. And that’s what I do: I fight.”

Du Plessis feels like defeating Whittaker would make him undeniable in the fans’ eyes. And despite wanting the title fight against Adesanya next, Du Plessis also wants to feel like he got the shot based on merit and not the bad blood between him and the champion.

“I don’t want to get that title shot based on some hype created by, I don’t even know what, some guy who has the title who’s behaving like a little child and overreacting and now the fight is happening because of that,” Du Plessis said. “I want to deserve my title shot. I don’t want to be handed a title shot. I’m going to deserve that belt, and that’s why I wanted that Whittaker fight.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 290.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie