In a battle of unbeatens, Israel Adesanya (20-0) proved yet again why he’s the best middleweight in the world with a decisive TKO victory over Paulo Costa (13-1) to retain the middleweight championship Saturday night at UFC 253 from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Adesanya spent much of the first round shredding Costa’s lead leg with varied kicks, seeing the cupping behind the challenger’s knee and going after a potential a perceived weakness. Costa was stuck on the receiving end, landing less than 15 total strikes in the round.
Costa opened things up in the second, but it was Adesanya yet again tearing the Brazilian’s leg apart with low kicks. The champion was surgical through the end of the round, tossing feints, watching where Costa went, then landing shots as the challenger attempted to evade. He opened a cut on Costa’s eye with a head kick, then put him to bed with a left hook to the temple and ground-and-pound, forcing a referee stoppage.
Israel Adesanya just made that look SUPER EASY! Shut Paulo Costa UP. #AndStill #UFC253 pic.twitter.com/O1OUnZknyz
— Pat Egan (@Pat_Egan) September 27, 2020
After wrapping up an impressive 2019 that saw him knock off Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastellum, and Robert Whittaker, Adesanya sleepwalked through his first title defense against the heavy-handed Yoel Romero in March. Adesanya’s move to fight Costa was expected to be one of his toughest fights to date, but the champion made quick work of the challenger to remain unbeaten.
Costa suffered a torn left biceps in a separate decision win over Romero, but he refused to take a tuneup bout before fighting for the belt. He was simply no match for Adesanya, who extended his middleweight win streak to nine. After the fight, Adesanya announced he’d like to fight Jared Cannonier if he can knock off the former champion, Robert Whittaker, when they fight on October 24.