Instead, we got a one-sided dominant performance from the incumbent Champion Israel Adesanya, who picked Paulo Costa apart in less than ten minutes before finishing him and ending his undefeated streak.
Speaking on the post-fight press conference (H/T MMAJunkie), Dana White admitted that watching Paulo Costa's performance at UFC 253 was 'weird':
“So much for ‘Fight of the Year’ – it was ‘Domination of the Year. It was weird because if you look at every other fight that Costa has had, he comes out and goes after people like they owe him money."
Paulo Costa hardly landed anything and absorbed more damage. Normally a pressure fighter, Costa either avoided taking a chance or was thwarted by the reigning Middleweight Champion:
“I think he landed one jab in this fight. He didn’t try to clinch on the fence, didn’t try to put pressure, kept going back to the center of the octagon. It was very weird.”
Dana White then stated his surprise over how easy Israel Adesanya beat Paulo Costa:
“(Paulo Costa) never tried to get in the clinch. I think he only landed one jab (and) didn’t really thrown any punches when (Adesanya) threw kicks. It was very weird. I just sat there going, ‘Holy (explicit).’ Obviously Adesanya went to work, pieced him piece by piece, made it look really easy.”
What's next for Paulo Costa?
There were a lot of questions asked after Paulo Costa's loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 253. Against every other opponent, Costa essentially steamrolled through them, showcasing a scary level of power.
Dana White didn't put Paulo Costa or his ability down, simply stating that it was a testament to how talented Israel Adesanya really is. There's a lot of truth to that, but when looking back on Costa's performance, one has to wonder what the actual game plan was.
Costa essentially ate over 20 leg kicks by the second round and if he wasn't finished then, he likely would have been picked apart above his hips after round two. Either way, the big question is what's next for Paulo Costa. Perhaps an opponent outside the Middleweight top 5 would be a good way to get back in the mix.Published 28 Sep 2020, 09:30 IST