Dricus Du Plessis attacks Kelvin Gastelum over UFC 273 withdrawal. ‘He literally stole food from my table.


Dricus Du Plessis was in the Dubai airport, on a layover from his native South Africa to Jacksonville, Fla., when the UFC called to offer him Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 273.

Du Plessis was defeated by Anthony Hernandez who had been scheduled to replace Chris Curtis. But neither of them had the ranking value of Gastelum, a one-time interim title challenger, or a guaranteed spot on the April 9 pay-per-view event’s main card.

“Damn, straight, I’ll fight that fight,” Du Plessis stated Monday on The MMA Hour . “That’s the guy I should be fighting .”

Unfortunately, for this up-and-coming middleweight fighter, it ended in defeat. This past Friday, he got another call from his promoter. It was his promoter who called Gastelum to tell him Gastelum had suffered an “undisclosed” injury and could not fight.

Worse yet, Du Plessis’ previous opponent Hernandez had been booked against another appointment. He’d flown halfway across the world, paid out of pocket for a training camp, only to be marooned in a Jacksonville hotel room.

“I thought it was April Fool’s,” Du Plessis said of his reaction. “You guys are screwing around. What’s happening?”

Gastelum on Sunday told his social media followers that he is “compromised” and unable to fight on Saturday. Du Plessis offers his explanation for why the fight was suddenly cancelled.

“Who gets an injury a week before a fight?” he questioned. “What could you possibly be doing to get injured, and if he was injured, you don’t know what the camp was like, but why would he insist on having a new opponent when he had to pull out? … He wasn’t hurt on Monday because he was insisting on fighting, but suddenly he is injured on Friday. This sounds suspicious to me.

” I think they began to watch tapes and that was where all the problems started. … He really needs a win – let’s not beat around the bush, he needs a win – and this is a great opportunity for him. The guy he is fighting, who is a South African man, is ranked No. 20, and he finds out, let’s get this easy fight and get in the win column. … Then he watched the tape and realized this is no walkover fight.

“People say I have nothing to lose – I have everything to lose. I consider losing a fight everything. So it wasn’t that I have nothing to lose. No, I’m above his level. I just needed the opportunity. He realized this and became a very smart man. Actually, I’ve always been a fan of him. He realized that this was not the fight to win him in the win column .”


Gastelum has targeted his octagon return to take place in his native Arizona at UFC 274 in May. Du Plessis feels “The Ultimate Fighter 17” owes him a fight.

” I’m not mad at UFC, it’s a bit out of their hands to be fair,” he stated. “I’m angry at Kelvin. While I respect Kelvin, I don’t mean to disrespect him. But, right now, he took my food. It doesn’t matter how much money I make. I was in there to become a champion as soon as possible, to get in that top-10, and he took my opportunity to perform. He took it away from me – he took the eight weeks of hard, intense training, my 12 weeks in camp – he took all that away from me, all the hard work, everything that was spent from coaches to nutritionists, everything that put in some sort of effort to get to this point. He took that away because he didn’t feel like fighting. He didn’t like the risk, and he made me give up my opponent.

“It’s his fault. The fight was postponed by him. A fight can be cancelled at any time, even if it is on a one-week notice. It’s hard to take a fight, especially on a week’s notice. And here Gastelum comes and waits until a week before the fight to all of a sudden say, ‘No, I’m injured,’ when he insisted on a new fight. This is frustrating, and it’s a bit disrespectful to opponents as well as the sport .”

Du Plessis is going to make the most of this unfortunate situation by continuing his cross-training at multiple MMA gyms throughout Florida over the next four weeks. He is open to a bout with Andre Muniz, whom he turned down to face on April 9, when he has time to properly cut weight and peak in his training (he added the UFC declined a catchweight meeting on April 16 or April 23, which both host Fight Night cards, due to lack of spots available). He is now open to facing an opponent that could make a difference in his career’s trajectory.

After a 2-0 start in the UFC, Du Plessis is ready to make a big leap at middleweight.

“I do believe the Kelvin Gastelum is more the fight that’s going to be a more exciting fight, and right now, I feel like it’s the fight that [makes] sense,” he said. If you are only willing to fight me at No. 9.

“I’ll fight Kelvin at any time. Maybe he can heal as fast as he got injured.”