Dricus Du Plessis earned a middleweight title fight versus Israel Adesanya, punching out Robert Whittaker in the process.
The shocking upset came amidst a strange push for Du Plessis. With middleweight champion Adesanya already running through the division, including Whittaker twice, the UFC has feverishly been pushing a fight with Du Plessis. Many questioned the matchmaking with Whittaker, and oddsmakers had Whittaker a comfortable favorite, but conventional wisdom went out the window when the fight started.
Whittaker boxed well and kept Du Plessis outside in the opening portion of the first. However, Du Plessis continued to stalk Whittaker, unable to land anything of significance. At the end of the first, Du Plessis hit paydirt with a takedown, and a subsequent ground-and-pound cut Whittaker and left him bleeding heavily at the end of the round.
The second round followed the same pattern as the first. Du Plessis found success in his striking and finally downed Whittaker with a big shot. A visibly hurt Whittaker was helpless as Du Plessis rained shots on him. Du Plessis would be awarded an improbably second-round TKO at 2:23.
Things got more intense post-fight as Adesanya took to the octagon. A verbal confrontation between Du Plessis and Adesanya got ugly, setting the stage for a grudge match for the ages.
With the win, Du Plessis improves to 20-2 and will challenge for the middleweight title.
Whittaker drops to 25-7, with his long-running status as the next-best middleweight stripped from him.