The UFC has officially announced that Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title for the second time against Brazilian brawler Paulo Costa in a bout that fans have been dying to see for quite some time. While Adesanya has become one of the biggest stars in the UFC on his run to UFC gold, Costa has been tearing a path of destruction himself ever since he entered the UFC. This fight has all the makings to become one of the best rivalries seen inside the cage with both men bringing unbeaten records to this fight, along with a general dislike for each other.
The war of words started long ago between these two
When Hype Trains Collide
Israel Adesanya came into the UFC with all the expectation in the world on his shoulders. A pro kickboxer who dabbled in the odd MMA fight, he amassed a 75-5 record as his time as a pure kickboxer before he made the switch to MMA full time in 2017. He was quickly scooped up by the UFC in the same year and since his debut has won all 8 of his fights to bring him to a perfect 19-0.
Adesanya isn’t the only one who has been putting the middleweight division on notice however. Paulo Costa also debuted in the UFC in 2017 and has been on the fast track to the top, winning all 5 of his fights and finishing all of them bar one in a Fight of the Night performance against Yoel Romero. An impressive thing to do when your fighting one of the scariest men the octagon has ever seen.
Its not only the thought of 2 unbeaten fighters going head to head in a title fight that makes this fight so exciting, but the clash of styles. Both men are known for their striking but bring very different tools to the game. Adesanya relies on feints, building an attack off those feints and trying to walk his opponents onto shots. Meanwhile Costa’s style could best described as a terminator, walking forward and throwing nothing but power shots, keeping heavy pressure on his opponents until they eventually succumb to his power. And to this date they all have.
Tricks Of The Champ
Adesanya would do well to try and keep his distance against Costa, especially in the early moments of the fight. Costa rarely takes a step back in the octagon so it would serve him well to be elusive, keep his feet moving and not let Costa trap him along the cage and inviting him to tee off on him with power shots. We saw in his fight with Uriah Hall that Costa had some trouble with Hall’s jab while he was moving his feet. The jab combined with Adesanya’s feints could be enough to make Costa second guess coming into range with reckless abandon. Adesanya has also shown he has the cardio for 5 rounds several times and showed he has the heart of a champion in his fight with Kelvin Gastelum, getting wobbled in the first round before going on to outlast him.
The Unstoppable Force
Knowing what your opponent is going to do is one thing, but stopping them doing it is another. I’m sure Adesanya knows that Costa is going to walk forward and try pressure him from the get-go but it doesn’t guarantee he can stop it. The playbook seemed to be out on Costa after a few of his UFC fights but that didn’t stop him from steamrolling the likes of former champ Johnny Hendricks and Uriah Hall. Even against the most intimidating man in the division Yoel Romero, Costa was able to walk through him and eat his shots like tic tacs. Staying in Adesanya’s face and backing him up is key for Costa. Bodywork has been a staple of his UFC run so far and using his pressure and not allowing Stylebender time to set and pick his shots while digging the body would be a great way to wear down the champ.
Its hard to not get excited about this fight the more you look into it. 2 fighters in their prime going toe-to-toe, flashy striker vs pressure fighter. It seems like a perfect mix of styles and personalities combined to make for a great fight and a great rivalry. A rivalry that we might be blessed enough to see play out more than once.
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