Adesanya, Costa raise stakes for UFC 253 in Fight Island
After a series of trash talks, personal jibes and stare downs in the past days, a scuffle during the face-off after the weigh-ins has just added fuel to fire
It's going to be a rare clash of the undefeated versus the undefeated at the UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi's Fight Island. The stakes are higher than ever. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, on 19-0 unbeaten run, and challenger Paulo Costa, on a 13-0, are itching to enter the steel cage and settle their scores on Sunday morning.
After a series of trash talks, personal jibes and stare downs in the past days, a scuffle during the face-off after the weigh-ins has just added fuel to fire.
On Friday evening, the two fighters had made weights. There was a lot of speculation if Costa will actually make 185 pounds but he finally was on the dot. Adesanya weighed 184 pounds, thereby giving official status to the main card. So now it was assumed that both fighters would just pose for the cameras during the face-off but then an unexpected turn of events happened.
Costa came wearing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black-belt. He flaunted the belt and then pulled out a white belt and threw it at Adesanya, who is from kick-boxing and boxing background. Adesanya threw it right back and immediately UFC president Dana White jumped in to separate the two fighters. The UFC staff pulled back Adesanya and Costa to their ends to avoid a clash.
The actions were the result of the trash talk between them during the press conference.
First Adesanya taunted Costa and said he has grown weak by cutting weight.
"I can see he's sucked out. He's trying to keep it together."
Costa responded: "My body has responded better than ever. I feel great. There's a lot of energy. You will see a beast inside the cage."
And then when reporters questioned Costa about his ground skills against a technically sound opponent, the Brazilian pointed out that he isn't just a striker but a grappler too.
"He knows my potential, my power and how dangerous I am. I have a lot of knowledge on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And yes, this fight can be on the ground also," Costa said.
Adesanya replied that Costa was a failure as a grappler.
"Whenever he shoots, he loses his gas tank. You can't grapple. If I grab your neck, trust me I am not going to give it back. I'll grab your collar right now and put you in a bow-and-arrow," the 31-year-old said.
Costa shot back that Adesanya has never even tried a G1 - the uniform for jiu-jitsu training.
"You never put one Gi on your skinny body. Talk about jiu-jitsu with me. You're crazy," the 29-year-old said.
The tit-for-tat continued even when they had not been asked any questions. The evening face-off showed the mind games being played and effectively so. Costa taunted Adesanya with the beginner's white belt. It's now a countdown to see who will crumble inside the octagon.
Anyhow, a delighted Dana White is loving the intensity building for the pay-per-view.
"When you have two of the baddest dudes in the world, undefeated in their prime, facing off for the world title, nothing gets better than this. When you look at this fight stylistically, I picked this to be the fight of the year. A fight fan couldn't have asked for anything more. This is the type of fights you want to watch right here," White added.
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