It was supposed to be the toughest challenge of his career, but Israel Adesanya made it easy by dominating Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title in the main event of UFC 253.
“The Last Stylebender” predicted that precision would beat power and that’s exactly how the fight went avoiding just about everything Costa threw at him while taking down the Brazilian contender with all kicks. throughout the first round. Adesanya then finished the fight with a left counterhand that brought Costa down for the last time.
The end came at 3:59 a.m. in the second round.
There was a lot of bad blood between the middleweights in the days and weeks leading up to the event, but Adesanya ultimately needed less than two laps to send Costa and hand him the first loss of his professional career.
“I told you guys. As Roy Jones said, you must have forgotten. Ya’ll must have forgotten, ”Adesanya said in reference to his previous win over Yoel Romero before doing a short Costa job on Saturday night.
“I see you media people with your little bait headlines. I had to make sure you remembered.
Wary of the power coming from Costa at the start, Adesanya focused on kicking in the opening rally while looking to chip away at his opponent’s foundation. Rather than rushing to close the distance, Costa responded with a few stiff kicks to the body while calling on Adesanya to follow him.
As the fight continued, Adesanya was methodical while distributing a steady diet of those same kicks with Costa ready to stand directly in front of him. While Costa constantly mocked Adesanya, it was the former kickboxer turned UFC champion who did much more damage.
Halfway through the second round, Adesanya’s kicks paid off when he was able to climb to the head where he connected and opened a cut on Costa’s eye.
With a stunned look in his eyes, Costa never really recovered as Adesanya saw the wound painted all over his opponent and he knew the end was near.
At that point, Adesanya greeted a trade on the feet where he presented his dazzling defense and then threw the counter with his left hand which ultimately led to the finish. As soon as the punch connected, Costa collapsed onto the mat and Adesanya only had to throw in a few more shots before the referee rushed in to stop the fight.
The victory took Adesanya to 20-0 in his career, 9-0 in the UFC and he is now a two-time reigning middleweight champion. Never one to sit back and wait for the next challenge, Adesanya already had a name in mind as he contemplated UFC 254 in a few weeks, when a former champion takes on a top contender at 185 pounds.
“I already have DM’d Jared Cannonier. He’s a fucking guy. I love his energy. He’s a magnificent man, ”Adesanya said. “I said you destroy Robert Whittaker and you’re next.
“This is the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he easily beats Robert Whittaker and dominates him, he is next.