“I’m not taking anything for granted, I’m not taking anything lightly.” In the build up to UFC 253, in just over a week’s time, Israel Adesanya says that being champion has been exactly what he expected.
But at the same time, he’s not slacking. So while “The Last Stylebender” is no fan of Paulo Costa, he’s taking him very, very seriously.
The pair meet atop the UFC 253 card on September 26. A fight fans are definitely looking forward to.
The headlining bout in the UFC’s return to Fight Island is a hot topic among them. Adesanya feels that has a lot to do with “just the style, and the look of it.”
“This overly inflated balloon animal, this juiced up motherf*cker [Costa], then there’s me, skinny little kid with some Bruce Lee moves,” he elaborated. “Then I come in here, dust this guy up, and it just looks sick as f*ck.”
Adesanya is clearly confident. But opinions on this fight are all over the map. Luckily, having been in the fight business (originally in kickboxing) a long time, Adesanya is used to that.
“For me, it’s the same sh*t. I just come in and do my job. I just turn down all the extra noise and opinions that don’t really matter,” he stated during a virtual media session recently.
In a weird way, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has actually been beneficial. “There’s no distractions. To be honest, when we went up to level 3 lockdown, there’s been no distractions, and that’s been good for us,” admitted Adesanya. “That’s been good for the bond of the team, the morale, and the skill upgrades. I think this two weeks that we had in lockdown was the catalyst for what’s going to happen come the 26th of September.”
In the meantime, weeks out from the event, Adesanya added that he was “just practicing patience, because I can see the finish line on the horizon. You can’t blow your wad. I’ve done this before, so my body knows exactly what to expect. I can’t wait, I’m just practicing patience.”
If there’s any negativity attached to the upcoming middleweight showdown between Adesanya and Costa at UFC 253, it’s this: the champ’s last outing wasn’t exactly a memorable one. In similar fashion, Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero was a highly anticipated bout between the creative, agile striker, and a Sherman tank of a middleweight in Yoel Romero.
Sparks were expected to fly. They didn’t. The fight went over like a particularly noxious fart in church.
“The last fight, I brought my best, but my opponent brought something completely different. Which, to his credit, is what he’s supposed to do,” observed Adesanya. “But at the same time, you’re supposed to fight, and he wasn’t willing to fight. I can’t fight by myself. So the last fight was a bit of a weird one. But it is what it is. We’ll move forward with this next fight.”
If you’re worried about a repeat of the Romero fight at UFC 253, Adesanya later had some comforting words. “[Costa]’s too dumb. He’s just perfect for me. He’s going to come forward, swinging, like a buffoon, and I’m going to clown him. Because I am a clown, aren’t I?”
Some of his antics may take on a court jester feel from time to time. But anyone dismissing Adesanya as a clown is making a dangerous mistake. And Adesanya himself isn’t about to make that error either. He knows that, as much as he sees Costa as a buffoon, the Brazilian is in this title fight for a reason. “He’s dangerous though, that’s one thing you have to remember, he’s dangerous,” Adesanya said. “But he has to remember, so am I.”
So what’s the key to Israel Adesanya winning once again at UFC 253, maintaining his perfect record and spoiling Costa’s? Apparently, it’s not being overly concerned with winning. “I just worry about expressing myself, having fun. Winning just comes with that, to be honest,” he said. “I don’t really worry about it. I definitely want to win, don’t get me wrong, I love winning.”
That said, thoughts of winning don’t eat up a large percentage of Adesanya’s time. “When I’m having fun, I’m the best in the world. So that’s what I’m focusing on, I want to express myself and have fun.”
Israel Adesanya defends his UFC middleweight championship against Paulo Costa in a battle of undefeated fighters at UFC 253. The event takes place on Fight Island (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, September 26.