Israel Adesanya not fazed by Paulo Costa’s challenge
As the countdown to the September 26 UFC 253 fight begins, Nigerian born New Zealand-based Mixed Martial Art (MMA) fighter, Israel Adesanya, has vowed to show his challenger, Paulo Costa, that he is a true fighter. The fight, a Pay Per View (PPV) contest, is slated for the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Adesanya, who is UFC middleweight champion, and the challenger, Costa, were featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ in a heated, but entertaining exchange that had both fighters taking stabs at each other at the weekend.
“I’ve got many, but that’s just one,” Adesanya said. “I am a fighter. When someone brings the fight, I (expletive) fight. And you said you’re going to bring the fight, right? Cool, bring that (expletive), I’ll show you what I’m about.”
The tete-a-tete began with host Michael Eaves asking the fighters to recall the beginning of their feud and it was the middleweight champion who spoke up first.
“Let’s rewind,” Adesanya said. “Go back to The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale. That’s when I fought Brad Tavares in the ‘smaller cage’ everyone’s been talking about. The next night [at UFC 226], (Costa) fought Uriah Hall and he did alright, had a TKO stoppage. Then I saw him backstage while I was doing my interview with ESPN and he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He just kept on staring at the wall about five feet away from me, just literally looking at the wall … and that interview’s on YouTube. You can look it up.
“He literally just found something more interesting on the wall than to confront me, because he was talking all this (expletive). Trying to say like, ‘Oh, I don’t know who this guy is. Who’s this Israel guy?’ You know who the (expletive) I am now, I’m the champ.”
Costa saw their early interactions in a different light.
“I don’t remember that part, but I remember I saw you walking there in the hall of the hotel and thought this guy works for Cirque du Soleil because he’s so skinny, he doesn’t look like a fighter,” Costa said. “But after that the people told me you fought one day before me, I think. But I really didn’t know who you are.”
Adesanya won the middleweight title against Robert Whittaker in Melbourne, Australia, last October.
“I was there because it’s easy to call out some guy 20, 30 meters of distance,” Costa said. “And when he showed his [middle] fingers to me. I tried to go inside there, but the people don’t let me go there.”
“You’re not doing (expletive) in that moment because security’s gonna stop you,” Adesanya replied. “You have to just sit there. Even you were the one saying, ‘Robert is gonna win. I think Robert’s gonna win.’ Tell me how Robert won. Tell me how Robert won. You say the same (expletive) that everyone’s been saying, you’re not the first one to say it, and you won’t be the last.”
“I will face you very, very soon and then I will have an opportunity to show you what I tried to show in that moment,” Costa said. “No problem.”
Asked why there appeared to be real animosity between the two fighters, Costa said that Adesanya has a “disrespectful” attitude that he doesn’t believe fans are interested in. He also criticised Adesanya’s most recent performance against Yoel Romero, to which Adesanya countered by showing off a 2019 Fight of the Year award that he won for his UFC 236 battle with Kelvin Gastelum.
At one point, as Adesanya suggested that Costa might fade in the later rounds, he was interrupted by Costa showing off his bare chest. That prompted Adesanya to shout, “Put your tits away, this is ESPN! Mickey Mouse don’t want to see that (expletive).”
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