In the prime of his life as a fighter, Dan Hardy didn’t hesitate to start a match, but even he was slightly surprised by Israel Adesanya’s celebration last weekend.
Adesanya needed less than two rounds to get rid of Paulo Costa and successfully defend his middleweight title at UFC 253 on Saturday, but he didn’t finish the challenger after the fight was stopped. As referee Jason Herzog stepped in to separate the fighters, Adesanya pretended to hit Costa from behind, then walked over to Costa’s corner and directed an obscene gesture at Costa’s team.
The actions were the culmination of months of bad blood and trashy talk between Adesanya and Costa, though it is questionable whether Adesanya may have crossed a line with his behavior. Speaking to the media during a scrum in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Hardy gave his take on the situation.
“It was rude, it’s the truth,” Hardy said. “It was unnecessary and it was rude. It’s not good for the sport to see these things, but at the same time we see a lot of superstars that stand out, they make the headlines because of what they do. [Adesanya] urinated on the octagon during his UFC debut. We shouldn’t be surprised by these things.
“There’s a lot of animosity between these guys and we act when we’re in these scenarios. When your adrenaline rushes you’ve just won the fight, you’ve got all that energy. How many times do you see people doing terrible dances after fights and things? I made it myself. You don’t know what you are saying in interviews because your adrenaline is going, you are just ‘blllaaaaah!’ It happens. Sometimes it’s hard to stay in control of yourself under these circumstances, but that’s when you see someone like that and sort of think, well, it wasn’t. in the spirit of martial arts and really that’s what we want to see, to represent the sport as a whole. But at the end of the day, these people have to be themselves. “
Unsurprisingly, Costa’s team blasted Adesanya for the post-fight celebration, with Costa calling him “human trash” and Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail saying Adesanya’s actions were “disgusting.”
Costa’s side are already campaigning for a rematch, which is why Hardy thinks he’s unlikely to release too many details about what went wrong on Saturday. Hardy has his own theory, including the possibility that the generally quick Costa will struggle to build stamina for a five-round fight. He also credited Adesanya with being a difficult puzzle to solve, much like great middleweight Anderson Silva.
“If you’re a three-round fighter and you’re fighting five rounds, you might not be able to raise your conditioning to five rounds,” Hardy said. “You may just have to manage this energy system. So starting hard and going fast for three rounds and then having to fight when you’re gassed and trying to defend against Adesanya isn’t the smart thing to do. So if I was in Costa’s corner, I probably would have said the same thing: take it easy on round one, don’t give him too much research, don’t give him too much research, don’t give him too much for understand and set yourself up. But unfortunately I don’t think Costa had the OS against Izzy to be able to figure out what was going on when he was in the pocket.
“You remember when Anderson Silva entered sports it was like witchcraft. He’s in there and people just don’t know what to do. We have guys like Chris Leben who came crashing down and knocking people out, who couldn’t get their hands on Anderson Silva, and there’s something very confusing about that. When you know that you normally get close and hurt people pretty quickly and can’t touch them. I think it was 12 strikes that he landed in the total fight. It was just a spectacular performance from Izzy, he handles the reach so well. It must be a bit like fighting Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. You can’t really understand what his struggle is like until he gets a hold of you. I think when you stand in front of Israel Adesanya you can’t really understand what it is until he’s around. And when it’s there, it’s too late.