Adesanya destroys Costa to retain UFC middleweight belt
Israel Adesanya continued his path to becoming one of the greatest middleweights in UFC history Saturday night.
Adesanya finished Paulo Costa via TKO at 3:59 of the second round in the UFC 253 main event at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
"Like Roy Jones said, I say, 'Y'all must have forgot, y'all must have forgot,'" Adesanya said in his postfight interview. "Because of what happened last time (against Yoel Romero), you thought, 'Oh, he's so boring.' ... Trust me, I had to make y'all remember and I had to remind the world why we the best."
This was only the second men's title fight featuring two undefeated fighters in UFC history. Lyoto Machida versus Rashad Evans, a light heavyweight bout, in 2009 was the first.
Adesanya's finish came after he dropped Costa with a devastating left hand. He jumped on Costa and immediately got into full mount, reigning down hard shots on the ground until the referee called the contest off.
Costa was being touted as Adesanya's toughest test to date, but the champ ultimately made it look easy. "The Last Stylebender" dominated the challenger from start to finish. In the first round, Adesanya - who had an eight-inch reach advantage - stayed at his range and chopped Costa up with leg kicks.
Costa, who usually uses pressure and aggression to pummel his opponents, struggled to come forward and land power shots against Adesanya. Instead, Costa stood at kicking range with the titleholder for most of the bout and got lit up.
Adesanya was measured in the first round, but he started to open up in the second en route to the late finish. He opened up a cut on Costa's face moments before stopping him.
With the victory, Adesanya improved his pro record to 20-0 and further cemented his case as one of the best in 185-pound history. He expressed interest in facing Jared Cannonier, should Cannonier beat former champ Robert Whittaker next month at UFC 254.
Costa suffered his first pro defeat after heading into his first UFC title fight at a perfect 13-0. "The Eraser," now 5-1 in the Octagon, beat the likes of Romero and Uriah Hall to earn a shot at the belt.