Nigeria’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya says he is thinking about getting a knock-out as early as the first round or fourth of this weekend’s title defence against Paulo Costa, megasportsarena.com reports.
With many fight purist already stating that they do not expect Costa to spring any surprises in Saturday night’s contest against ‘The Last Style Bender,’ Adesanya has gone ahead to reveal that he plans to wrap the bout up early enough and stated during Mega Sports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos that he is thinking about getting the job done in round one.
Although Costa is also undefeated like Adesanya, who fights out of New Zealand, many analysts reckon that the challenger does not have ‘the smarts to’ shock the holder, who last ruled in The Octagon against Yoel Romero in March, when the Cuban contender put up frustrating passive tactics but still could not snatch the belt.
Romero basically stood in the centre of the cage and refused to go on the attack until he spotted an opening, which never happened, as Adesanya (19-0) quickly worked him out to claim a unanimous decision; and gave credit to his victim for trying something different.
Like Romero, Costa (13-0) is known for his brute strength and one-punch knockout power, with all but two of his 13 victories coming inside the distance, but Adesanya is rating this weekend’s opponent low even as he opined that he will achieve what he aims to get against him on Saturay (into the early hours of Sunday).
‘The Kiwi Star’ and Costa headline UFC 253 on September 27 (NZ time). The stacked card, which includes City Kickboxing teammates Kai Kara-France, Brad Riddell and Shane Young, is set to kick off the UFC’s return to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi, although that has yet to be made official.
With two undefeated, highly entertaining yet contrasting strikers squaring off for UFC gold, the fight basically sells itself. But the pair have certainly played their part after building a heated rivalry over several months.
While both are at home on their feet, the match-up pits Adesanya’s technical striking and fluid movement against the Brazilian brawler, who has more of a high-pressure style as Costa, who is also coming off a decision win over Romero 12 months ago, is making his first appearance in a five-round fight. But he didn’t mince his words as he predicted a finish inside the third.
For now, Costa’s main concern is getting down to the 84kg (185lb) weight limit and the 29-year-old revealed he had ballooned out to 115kg after undergoing two operations on his left arm late last year, which prevented him from meeting Adesanya in March, yet he still has around 10kg to go, most of which he will aim to cut during fight week.
Heading into the fight, Adesanya has enjoyed poking fun at ‘The Bear,’ and was quite relaxed when discussing his Brazilian opponent, who has in the past been entwined in some doping controversies and a myriad of incidents; but opted to prry that as an issue, while insisting it will be an early night.
Adesanya retorted: “I am looking at round one, or going to round four for this fight. I am prepared for it, but that is not to say my opponent is a walkover. I’ve said this about Costa, I’m going to pop him before USADA does and I plan on doing just that. He’s perfect for me.
“He’s going to come forward swinging like a buffoon and I’m going to clown him. He’s a dangerous man, but so am I. And what’s going to be his downfall is his lacklusterness when it comes to me. He thinks he’s just going to walk through whatever I throw at him. Alright, I welcome him to try.”
Costa responded: “I’m not going to win by one point. I’m going to destroy him. I don’t care if the judges give a round to him because I’m not going to take this fight by decision. I’m training to destroy him. I hope his wrestling is really good because we’re coming to take him down and finish him.”
Newsbreak.com stated in their preview for Sunday’s big fight: “The battle between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa continues. From the playful back and forth on social media, to the harsh words for each other cage side, this rivalry is heated. Spectators of mixed martial arts have waited for Adesanya to face Costa.
“However, injuries had unfortunate timing that has offset the battle. Now, Costa is the number contender for Izzy’s belt. And after defeated Yoel Romero, Adesanya is ready to show Costa why he’s the middleweight champion of the world.”