Dricus Du Plessis thought he would be looking at a new opponent for his first KSW welterweight title defense, but when Roberto Soldic was the only man who would step forward to face him in London he was happy to accept a rematch.
“[KSW] said I didn’t need to take the fight, and I could do it in December instead, and they would have another opponent for me,” the KSW welterweight champion told MMA Fighting. “I didn’t want to wait that long. I said, ‘There’s only one way to prove how great I am after beating the best guy in Europe, and that’s beating him twice’.”
The South African, an EFC double champion at welterweight and middleweight, sent shockwaves through the European MMA scene when he weathered blue-chip prospect Soldic’s early onslaught in April. He caught the Croatian destroyer in the second round, putting him down before finishing the fight with ground and pound.
As far as “Stillknocks” is concerned, his KSW title capture highlighted the hard work that he and his team have put into his career. With a victory over “Robocop” in his back pocket, he believes he has a huge psychological advantage ahead of their second dance on Saturday at KSW 45.
“It’s a big mental advantage. In all of his fights, he rattles his opponents; once he hits them with a hard punch they don’t want to be in there anymore. I train for that; I have guys in my camp that hit much harder than that. I’ve travelled all across the world, I’ve put in hours upon hours and I got a massive opportunity — I’m not going to go away because of a few hard shots,” he explained.
“I knew all of the punches he threw at me were the hardest punches he had; you could see it in his face, you could see it in his demeanor and you could see it in the way that he fights. He does hit hard, I’m not going to take that away from him. But unfortunately for him, this game moves too fast, it’s not just about how hard you can hit. He’s predictable, he slows down and you can see the shots coming. I could feel it as soon as I got him to the ground — I have this guy.”
Du Plessis is expecting much of the same from Soldic on Saturday night. If victorious, he hopes to mirror his EFC feat and focus on the promotion’s middleweight title, but only if KSW believe he has earned the right to fight for it.
“I’ll be there in December, that’s the plan. I won’t be fighting or competing, but I’ll be definitely checking out the finale of that tournament. I want to get that [middleweight] strap. 100 percent I’m going to beat Soldic tomorrow night and then I’m going to get my crack at that middleweight belt as well.”
Although he has eyes on the heavier weight class, he would like to see an anti-doping policy brought in by KSW, something he claims promoter Martin Lewandowski is considering at the moment.
“That’s a big deal for me. I don’t want to fight a juiced-up middleweight. I want to fight someone that’s clean and that works his ass off, like I do. Martin [Lewandowski] has clearly said he wants to bring in a commission that will make sure fighters are being monitored. With EFC I was tested for every single fight. I’m randomly tested as a champion and I would like to see a level playing field,” he said.
Du Plessis went on to outline why he believes Soldic cannot be considered a “clean” athlete.
“I don’t consider Roberto to be a clean guy, to be honest. I’m not saying he’s juicing or anything, but he’s not fighting under regulated rules and he never has. I’ve fought under regulated rules for my whole career. At middleweight that’s different, but right now I’m a massive welterweight, I walk around even heavier than most of those middleweights do. I know for a fact I can compete with [KSW middleweights]; I’ve fought more fights at that weight. I’m 100 percent eyeing that middleweight title if it’s something I deserve. I don’t want a shot if it’s something that I don’t deserve,” Du Plessis said.