"Hand officially raised" - Rising African UFC newcomer wants to step in to face Robert Whittaker

UFC 213: Nunes vs Shevchenko
UFC 213: Nunes vs Shevchenko

South African Dricus du Plessis has offered to step into Paulo Costa's place in the UFC middleweight bout against Robert Whittaker on April 17.

Costa withdrew from the fight, with the former 185 lb champion claiming to be ill. One of his coaches has said that the Brazilian has not yet completely recovered from his COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, Du Plessis saw his bout with Trevin Giles on March 20 called off after he could not secure his visa to travel to the United States on time. Even though the UFC South African rising star managed to get his visa later, the promotion had already assigned another fighter for Giles' match.

'Stillknocks' took to his social media accounts to call out a different opponent, even if on short notice.

"Unfortunately, my fight this weekend already has a new opponent, but I'm on call for any short notice fight coming up," Du Plessis wrote.

Coincidentally, the middleweight bout between the division's top two contenders was aborted shortly after. The eventuality prompted Du Plessis to ask the UFC for the chance to fight Whittaker, replacing Costa.

"Hand officially raised to step in as a replacement to fight Whittaker," Du Plessis wrote.

The South African middleweight contender recently joined the UFC from EFC Africa, where he was the 185 lb champion. Du Plessis also captured the KSW middleweight belt earlier in his career.

'Stillknocks' left a good first impression on his new fighting organization as he defeated Markus Perez via first-round knockout at UFC Fight Island 5 in 2020.

Who will have the next title shot at the UFC middleweight title?

UFC 243 Whittaker v Adesanya
UFC 243 Whittaker v Adesanya

The UFC is studying new possibilities for the middleweight belt after Paulo Costa, No. 2 in the 185 lb rankings, withdrew from the bout against No. 1 Robert Whittaker.

Current champion Israel Adesanya has already defeated both top contenders and has claimed he would like to fight British sensation Darren Till next. However, if it depends on Italian Marvin Vettori's will, Till and Adesanya will have to wait longer to have their meeting confirmed.

Vettori has already faced Adesanya earlier in their careers. The Italian had a close contest with the Nigerian fighter, losing via split decision. He will fight Till in an upcoming event on April 10.

No. 3 in the rankings, Jared Cannonier is another high-ranked contender looking for a title shot in the UFC middleweight division. The American does not have a next fight confirmed.

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