Video: Champion Dricus back in SA


While hundreds of people waved specially made “they don’t know what we know” posters and chanted Bonnie Tyler’s Holding out for a hero echoing through the loudspeakers, Dricus “Stillknocks” du Plessis made his appearance at OR Tambo Airport on Thursday morning.

The new UFC middleweight champion, decked out in a black T-shirt and sweatpants with a pair of white sneakers, held the South African flag and his title belt in the air as he made his way through the flashing cameras of the media and the cellphones of the crowd. supporters tried to unravel.

“It feels incredible,” Du Plessis said when he finally found a moment of silence in a media room.

“I know that people are busy working, while there are also so many things going on in their lives; yet everyone made time to support a countryman who pursued his dream. I was just emotional when I saw it.”

The 30-year-old from Pretoria is South Africa’s first UFC champion, but he promises that this is by no means the end of his journey.

The big dreams are just beginning.

“Other fighters have been champions in two weight divisions. Now, if they can do that, it means that I can do something similar. I can reach even higher heights and this is only the beginning.”

There is already talk in mixed martial arts circles of a possible duel at UFC 300, but Du Plessis is prepared to wait for the icing on this kick-and-punch cake: an apple-swinging session against Israel Adesanya in South Africa.

“If something in Africa is on the menu, you will have to look very hard to find a bigger attraction than a Du Plessis/Adesanya fight. This is the fight I’m looking for. Right here on home soil.”

Forget about previous fights for now, the South African believes that Adesanya is one of the top athletes in the sport.

“Israel is one of the best and he has certainly made a lot of threats before, but as I often say: They don’t know what we know,” said the champion to great applause.

Although he held the title after five action-packed rounds, it is actually an achievement that every dear South African can be proud of.

“It’s about so much more than just my own pain or endurance; for me it is about the whole of South Africa. It means an incredible amount to bring the title back to my country.”