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Israel Adesanya refuses to allow Paulo Costa to distract him ahead of UFC 243

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Israel Adesanya obviously didn’t join the UFC to make friends, because he’s definitely had his share of enemies.

While he’s taken some shots at Robert Whittaker ahead of their clash at UFC 243, Adesanya largely has avoided a verbal war with the reigning middleweight champion. That’s not even close to the case with No. 1 ranked contender Paulo Costa, who’s expected to face the winner of next weekend’s main event from Melbourne, Australia.

Following his win over Yoel Romero in a title eliminator, Costa immediately turned his attention toward Adesanya. They’ve already exchanged words through interviews for the better part of the last year.

Costa even went as far as to say he’s rooting for Adesanya to win at UFC 243 – just so he can have the opportunity to face the current interim champ.

Costa also will be cageside next weekend to watch the main event as he prepares to face the winner at a future date.

Despite all the bad blood, Adesanya promises Costa is the last thing on his mind ahead of his fight against Whittaker.

“Nothing gets in,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting on Wednesday during the UFC 243 media conference call. “I’m not even focused on him at the moment. I know I’m going to face him afterwards. He can try all he wants. Anyone can try.

“People have tried in the past to get at me during fight week, but look how I show out.”

While Costa will undoubtedly be front and center for the fight – and perhaps after the final bell rings – Adesanya won’t be distracted from the task at hand. He’s there to unify the UFC middleweight title.

Once that job is finished, “Stylebender” will happily turn his attention towards Costa.

“It doesn’t really make a difference if he’s cage side, if he’s the referee – at the end of the day, I have a tough task ahead of me,” Adesanya said. “So that’s what I’m focused on right now.”