Israel Adesanya retains UFC title with TKO victory over Paulo Costa

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 6:46PM
Israel Adesanya celebrates after defeating Paulo Costa to retain his UFC middleweight belt. Photo / Getty
Israel Adesanya celebrates after defeating Paulo Costa to retain his UFC middleweight belt. Photo / Getty

Israel Adesanya retains UFC title with TKO victory over Paulo Costa

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 6:46PM

Israel Adesanya is a man of his word.

Despite his UFC 253 title defence against Paulo Costa being billed as a contender for fight of the year and as one of the best matchups the middleweight division has seen, Adesanya maintained it would nothing of the sort.

In less than two rounds, he proved it.

Adesanya outclassed Costa to win by TKO, handing the Brazilian his first professional loss in emphatic fashion.

It was exactly the kind of performance the 31-year-old said he would deliver, backing up from his bout against Yoel Romero earlier in the year which received a lot of criticism for inactivity.

"Like Roy Jones said, y'all must've forgot," Adesanya said. "Y'all must've forgot because of what happened last time.

"But trust me, I had to make y'all remember and had to remind the world why we're the best."

Adesanya, who moves to 20-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career, had little trouble with normally aggressive Costa, who was appearing in his first UFC main event. Adesanya went to low kicks on Costa's lead leg early, and as Costa made next to no attempt to check them, Adesanya kept going to it.

Before long, the Brazilian's left leg was covered in bruises. With the damage piling up on the leg, Adesanya changed things up, threatening to throw low but targeting the body and head. While having success with his kicks, Adesanya was also finding a home for his quick, snapping jab.

Costa, who was expected to try push the tempo of the fight early and apply pressure to Adesanya, had just one moment where he was able to back the champion up against the cage, but Adesanya was too slick and quickly fought his way back into the centre of the octagon.

After seemingly cruising through round one, Adesanya implemented a similar plan in the second, battering Costa's lead leg before threatening low and throwing high. It worked to perfection, as Adesanya clipped Costa with a head kick which he followed up with his hands to send Costa to the mat.

He then swarmed on his adversary until the referee called a stop to the fight. Adesanya was awarded a $50,000 performance of the night bonus for his display – his seventh bonus in nine UFC fights.

With the win, Adesanya has now turned away nine opponents in the UFC since his debut in early 2018, including seven opponents currently ranked inside the top 15 of the middleweight division.

Adesanya will now await his next challenger, with a keen eye on the matchup between former champion Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier. Adesanya has made no secret he believes Cannonier should be the next in line for a title shot, however he will have to get past Whittaker to earn it.

"I already messaged Jared Cannonier. He's a hell of a dude, I love his energy, he's a beautiful man, and I said 'if you destroy Robert Whittaker, you're next.'

"He's the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he's next."

;