Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa have been giving the pre-match hype for their UFC fight in Rio a real, tangible tone. The middleweight champion and challenger have had long periods of disagreement with one another, helping to create a dramatic atmosphere and not at all limited to just insults. Brazil’s fighter gave the champ his white belt – after mocking him for his weak jiu-jitsu skills – while Israel retaliated by suggesting that their opponent may be using steroids.
The first thing you’ll notice about Costa is that he’s a great grappler. He has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and prefers to win his fights on the ground, like many Brazilian fighters do.
Basically, he tries to attack with his hands. You can see good boxing technique from time to time: Paulo throws out a scraping kick. All the knockouts he had in the UFC were done with his fists.
One of the most inspiring matchups during Borracinha Costa’s career was against Juraya Hall. The experienced Jamaican, himself an excellent puncher, faced Borracinha on 7 July 2018 in Las Vegas. A little earlier, Hall had snapped a three-fight losing streak and planned to solidify his position in the promotion. Other than Costa’s victories by knockout at UFC events (which are natural), he had other quotes like “I will easily overpower this boy!” or similar phrases when being interviewed for different media outlets before the fight with Hall came up.
After an arduous day and night of fighting, the athletes were finally caged. Costa looked much bigger than his opponent: Adesanya seemed to be in a different weight class next to the sprawling Brazilian.
The fight started the expected fashion. Costa slowly moved on the retreating Adesanya and Borrachinha was very brave in his start but in the first round he wasn’t able to hit defending champion with any real way. Israel, on other hand, bombarded opponent’s legs with hard low kicks carefully tracking down Costa’s attacks.
From time to time, Adesanya himself stepped up to demonstrate both his accuracy and speed. Borrachinha’s pressure seemed only to slow down Costa as he was covered in abrasions.
In the second round, Adesanya finally seized the initiative by palming Costa with powerful floor to floor punches. The Brazilian attempted to keep his composure and after one of Adesanaya’s high kicks he even pretended to be knocked down. But Borrachinha was not doing so well: he stopped hitting Adesanya at all, but he was constantly taking hard punches and kicks. In one of his exchanges Israel finally brought down Costa with a powerful left side kick, and then brutally fought the challenger with a lot of punches.
The outcome of the fight
Adesanya fought Kosta in the first defeat of his career, but after shaking hands with Dzyuba and Azmun, he said that what had just happened before him was not worth a tragedy.
In the interview, Adesanya managed to sing and shout: “I am a god, in case you have forgotten. Heiters say I’m boring, but I’m a knockout collector. By the way, I think fighters who fail weight should have 90% of their fees taken away. It pisses me off so much when these guys fight and win. I want to fight Jared Cannonier now if he beats Robert Whittaker.”