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Israel Adesanya

Undefeated Nigerian-born UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, has told his opponent Paulo Costa in clear terms he is out for business when he defends his title against the Brazillian at the Yas Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

The 31-year-old is billed for another mega-money title defence against No.2 title contender and knockout specialist, Costa, who is unbeaten in his 13 career MMA fights.

Adesanya is also yet to taste defeat in 19 professional MMA bouts and will be gunning for his 20th win against the South American.

Both fighters have been involved in a war of words, with Adesanya promising to deflate Costa during the fight.

Costa on the other hand described Adesanya as “skinny”, saying the middleweight champion would be no match for him.

“I know Costa is weak from cutting weight. He looks dry, the sun is affecting him. Yeah, he’s trying to keep it together. If I grab your neck, trust me, I’m never going to give you back,” Adesanya said at the pre-fight press conference.

“I’m feeling dark for this fight. I’ve been focused for this fight I feel like Jet Li unleashed myself on him.”

But Costa said despite his weight loss, he felt good ahead of the bout and ready to dent the 100 per cent record of the Nigerian.

“I feel great. I have been in the process of cutting weight. Isreal is always weak.

“I think he knows my potential and how dangerous I am. Before I became a striker, I was a grabbler and I was good at it,” Costa replied Adesanya.

King of the Ring

The Last Stylebender, as Adesanya is popularly known, has been undefeated in 19 MMA fights since he made his debut in the middleweight category on March 24, 2012 with a TKO win over James Griffiths in Auckland, New Zealand.

In total, he won 14 of his fights through knockouts and five by decision.

Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori (April 2018)

New to the UFC franchise and after a knockout victory over Rob Wilkinson, (TKO knees and punches) in his first fight, Adesanya defeated 14th ranked Vettori via split decision to win his 13th career fight and his second in the UFC franchise.

It was the first time Adesanya went the distance in 13 MMA fights, and while the win wasn’t as dominant as his dismantling of Wilkinson in his UFC debut in Perth earlier in February, he got the job done after being floored in the third and final round.

Adesanya vs Brad Tavares (July 2018)

Would this be the night Adesanya suffered his first career loss? While there were moments early on where it appeared as though that might be the case, Adesanya walked out of the Octagon victorious once again.

The first round featured both fighters exchanging blows throughout, with neither gaining much of an edge.

Adesanya came out stronger in the second and seemed to gain some control of the fight. His quick strikes made it difficult for Tavares to protect himself.

Tavares—who had won his previous four fights—didn’t give in, though. He came out aggressive to start Round 4 and had Adesanya in a tough spot. But by the end of the round, it was Tavares who was bloodied.

Tavares put up a good fight, but the 6’4” Adesanya’s size and quickness was too much over the course of five rounds. As a result, the Nigerian kept his perfect record intact.

Adesanya vs Anderson Silva (February 2019)

Adesanya faced off with his mentor, Anderson Silver, and went the distance in a unanimous decision win over the Brazilian former middleweight champion. The bout was awarded the Fight of the Night as both fighters traded punches all round till the finish. The win made him the challenger for the interim middleweight championship title.

Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum (April 2019)

This bout between Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum was termed one of the biggest fights of 2019. There were heated words between both stars before the encounter which set the tone for a thrilling bout. The fight remains the toughest the Nigerian has fought in the UFC. Despite taking heavy shots through the bout, Adesanya’s penultimate and final round performance gave him the victory. The win made him the UFC Interim Middleweight Champion.

Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker (October 2019)

The fight between Adesanya and Whitaker, who hails from New Zealand, Adesanya’s adopted country, was taken to Australia as Adesanya wrestled the middleweight belt off his compatriot.

It took Adesanya 3:33 in the second round to take out Whittaker via punches to win the world title, less than two years in the UFC franchise. The fight was awarded the Performance of the Night bout.

Adesanya vs Yoel Romero (March 2020)

Adesanya first title defence against Romero was described by critics as boring but Adesanya admitted he had to put on everything to emerge victorious.

What fans saw in that main event can best be described as bizarre. Adesanya won a tactical affair by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) to retain the middleweight championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

DAZN News scored it 48-47 for Adesanya. But the bout ranged from boos in the middle of the first round to fans turning on their cell phone flashlights in boredom.

“It was a hard fight but cliché I did what I had to do,” Adesanya said in his postfight interview. “I f—ed his leg up. I did what I had to do. I picked him apart. I did what I had to do to win that fight.”

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