I told Costa I will shut his mouth, says victorious Adesanya
• Next up is DMed Jared ‘Killa Gorilla’ Cannonier
• I was relaxed watching him, says father
True to his pre-fight boast, Nigeria-born New Zealand-based UFC fighter, Israel Adesanya in the early hours of yesterday retained his middleweight Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) title by knocking out his challenger, Paulo Costa of Brazil, in the second round of their fight.
The fight took place at Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
The boastful Brazilian, reputed as a knockout specialist, added to Adesanya’s body count as the Nigerian moves up to 20-0 wins tally.
Israel, who is now the undisputed MMA Middleweight champion, said he knew the fight would not last the distance.
“I promised long ago that that I will bring colour to UFC middleweight. I have done it. I told Costa I will shut his mouth, I did it.”
Explaining why he restrained from inflicting further injury on Costa, Israel Adesanya said, “I still don’t like him. I don’t know him personally, I don’t wish he dies or anything, he’s alive, I let him be alive.
“This is the game we play, this is violence and I told you guys that it was going to be violent and I said it, it’s going to be violent and it’s going to end fast and that’s what I did.”
On his immediate plans, Adesanya said, “I’m fresh, I can go next weekend, I can go anytime. I want to spend time with my family because it’s been a crazy year, so I want to go spend time with my people.
“I’ve been telling you guys, but everyone thinks … like Roy Jones said, ‘Y’all must have forgot’ because of what happened last time. I had to remind the world who’s the best.”
Adesanya and Costa spent months trading verbal shots, but when it came time to step into the Octagon at UFC 253, the only meaningful blows that landed were those of middleweight champion. After spending a full round beating up Costa’s lead leg, Adesanya finished the challenger with punches in the second round of the main event on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Adesanya’s strategy was apparent early as he kept distance and unloaded with kicks to Costa’s lead leg, alternating between kicks to the outside and stomp kicks to the knee. As Adesanya landed, Costa would respond with taunts before trying to cut off the cage. But Adesanya’s footwork was on-point, allowing him to slide away from any danger before resuming his leg attacks.
Costa looked to turn things up in Round 2, trying to pressure a bit more, but Adesanya continued to avoid the exchanges and began to mix in strikes to the head. A head kick from Adesanya opened a cut above Costa’s eye, and suddenly the challenger’s taunts stopped as he began to move backward.
As Costa finally got his wish and the two began to exchange in close quarters, Adesanya landed a glancing blow off Costa’s temple, sending him tumbling to the canvas. Adesanya wasted no time following Costa to the ground, unleashing a brutal flurry of strikes and forcing the referee to call a halt to the action at the 3:59 mark of Round 2.
After the fight, Adesanya said he had already notified the man who could be next up of the opportunity ahead.
“I already DMed Jared Cannonier,” Adesanya said. “He’s a great dude, I like his energy. I said, ‘You beat Robert Whittaker and you’re next.’ If he beats Robert Whittaker, he’s next.”
To fight Adesanya, Cannonier, also known as ‘The Killa Gorilla,’ will have to get past former division champion Robert Whittaker next month.
Speaking to The Guardian shortly after the fight yesterday, Israel’s father, Femi Adesanya, said he was excited by the victory. “I saw the victory coming because Israel prepared very hard for the fight. He didn’t want to take anything for granted,” he said.
For the first time, the senior Adesanya, his wife and other members of the family were absent at the ringside in Fight Island in Abu Dhabi due to COVID-19 lockdown.
He said: “This is the first time we couldn’t be at the ring side watching his major fights. But we had to cheer him on from here in Auckland. As I said, I was relaxed watching him. I will speak with Israel later.”
Yesterday’s defeat was Paulo Costa’s first loss of his professional career.
Despite promises that he would “kill the skinny guy” in Saturday’s pay-per-view headliner, Costa fell well short in following through on his claims.