After successfully fending off Yoel Romero in his first UFC middleweight title defense, the unbeaten Israel Adesanya (19-0) has agreed to fight the returning Paulo Costa on September 19, per ESPN.
Costa (13-0) suffered a torn left biceps in a separate decision win over Romero, but the top contender for the belt isn’t waiting around for a tuneup bout before taking on the champ in a fight scheduled for UFC 253. Costa’s decision victory ended a stretch of five-consecutive knockout victories for the heavy-handed Brazilian.
Adesanya’s move to fight Costa presents one of the toughest fights to date. While he’s not exactly unchallenged, having wrapped up an impressive 2019 that saw him knock off Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastellum and Robert Whittaker, the champ’s only real test against someone with the sheer strength of Costa is against Romero.
What the timing of this fight means for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s planned showdown with Justin Gaethje is unknown at this time. But ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports the plan is to push that fight to later in the fall.
UFC 253 does not have an announced location yet, but Helwani reports is will “likely” take place in either Las Vegas or Fight Island in Abu Dhabi as the coronavirus pandemic continues on. This undisputed title fight will be just the second to take place between two unbeaten men.