Dricus ‘Stilknocks’ du Plessis

Dricus du Plessis is a South African professional mixed martial artist. He currently competes in the Middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the current UFC Middleweight Champion and the first South African to win a UFC championship. He is ranked #8 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

His nickname, “Stillknocks,” is a clever nod to his knockout prowess. Coined by his brother, the name is derived from the drug Stilnox, known as Ambien in the United States, symbolising du Plessis’s ability to ‘put his opponents to sleep.

Du Plessis was born in Welkom, South Africa in 1994. He began training in judo at the age of five, followed by wrestling at twelve, then kickboxing at fourteen. In 2012, at 17 years old, he became South Africa’s first medalist at the WAKO World Championships by winning gold in K-1 style kickboxing. He migrated to mixed martial arts after realising there was not as much money in kickboxing.

Along with martial arts, du Plessis also played rugby throughout his school years and has since been a vocal supporter of the Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team.

He attended the University of Pretoria, where he studied agricultural economics but dropped out during the final year to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

Du Plessis had three amateur bouts before he made his professional debut in 2013, amassing a 4–0 record before facing future UFC fighter and then-EFC Middleweight Champion Garreth McLellan at EFC Africa 33.

In June 2015, Dricus made his welterweight debut at EFC Africa 40 against Dino Bagattin, winning in the second-round.

After going 3–0 in 2015, du Plessis faced veteran striker Martin Van Staden at EFC 50 for the vacant EFC Welterweight Championship. Du Plessis won via a submission in the third round.

Du Plessis was later set to defend his title against one of its former holders, Henry Fadipe. However, the bout was cancelled when Fadipe encountered issues with his visa.

Du Plessis returned to EFC in 2017, defeating Brazilian Mauricio Da Rocha Jr. in a welterweight contest before facing Yannick Bahati at EFC Africa 62 for the Middleweight Championship. Du Plessis won after just 1:30 of the first round, becoming a two-division champion within the promotion.