Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa spent months trading verbal shots, but when it came time to step into the Octagon at UFC 253, the only meaningful blows that landed were those of middleweight champion. After spending a full round beating up Costa’s lead leg, Adesanya finished the challenger with punches in the second round of the main event on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Adesanya’s strategy was apparent early as he kept distance and unloaded with kicks to Costa’s lead leg, alternating between kicks to the outside and stomp kicks to the knee. As Adesanya landed, Costa would respond with taunts before trying to cut off the cage. But Adesanya’s footwork was on-point, allowing him to slide away from any danger before resuming his leg attacks.
Costa looked to turn things up in Round 2, trying to pressure a bit more, but Adesanya continued to avoid the exchanges and began to mix in strikes to the head. A head kick from Adesanya opened a cut above Costa’s eye, and suddenly the challenger’s taunts stopped as he began to move backward.
As Costa finally got his wish and the two began to exchange in close quarters, Adesanya landed a glancing blow off Costa’s temple, sending him tumbling to the canvas. Adesanya wasted no time following Costa to the ground, unleashing a brutal flurry of strikes and forcing the referee to call a halt to the action at the 3:59 mark of Round 2.
👑 @Stylebender is the undefeated king of the middleweights.
— UFC (@ufc) September 27, 2020
“I’ve been telling you guys, but everyone thinks … like Roy Jones said, ‘Y’all must have forgot’ because of what happened last time,” Adesanya said after his win. “I had to remind the world who’s the best.”
With the victory, Adesanya improved to 20-0 and dispatched a man many felt was his toughest challenger in the division. With options for fresh challenges dwindling after just two title defenses, Adesanya said he had already notified the man who could be next up of the opportunity ahead.
“I already DMed Jared Cannonier,” Adesanya said. “He’s a great dude, I like his energy. I said, ‘You beat Robert Whittaker and you’re next.’ If he beats Robert Whittaker, he’s next.”
CBS Sports was with you all evening bringing you results and analysis from UFC 253 on Fight Island.