While he retained his belt back in March with a win over Yoel Romero, the fight didn’t play out the way anyone expected. Romero was hesitant to engage for large stretches of time, which then forced Adesanya to alter his game plan as one of the most lethal counter strikers in the sport.
The end result was far from what Adesanya expected, which is why he’s putting the pressure back on himself to perform when he returns to face Costa later this year.
“This fight is about me,” Adesanya explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “This next fight is about me, it’s not really about Costa or anyone else. It’s about me proving myself.
“After that last fight, and dealing with what I had to deal with a statue, I’m looking to actually to go in there and have fun this time.”
If Romero was billed as the boogieman of the middleweight division, Costa might be considered even more terrifying after he beat the former Olympic silver medalist in his most recent fight. Costa is currently 5-0 in the UFC with four knockouts on his resume and a “Fight of the Night” performance in the war with Romero.
What’s scary to some certainly isn’t frightening to Adesanya, who sees Costa as a stylistic dream fight compared to some of his past opponents.
“This is picture perfect,” Adesanya said. “That’s why I love it. The way he looks, this juiced up monkey, evil Drago looking motherf*cker. There’s a skinny boy coming in there to whoop his ass, and when he whoops his ass, the sh*t I’m going to do to him afterwards. Oh my god.
“All the sh*t he said leading up to this fight, he’s going to pay for it. He’s going to hear after the fight. Guarantee you.”
As much as Romero earned a reputation for his explosive, action-packed fights, Costa has yet to find anyone capable of truly slowing him down when he starts plowing forward with an old school mentality where he’s just begging fighters to trade with him.
That aggression has paid off in every fight so far in the UFC but Adesanya knows Costa has never dealt with the power and pinpoint accuracy that will be taking aim at him when they finally clash inside the Octagon.
“He’s going to be a guy that’s going to press forward but he’s going to feel me from the get go,” Adesanya said. “He’s going to feel me like no one else in the UFC has felt me yet. I think the only guy that maybe pressed me a little bit other than Kelvin [Gastelum] was the Italian [Marvin Vettori]. They’re both juiced monkeys anyway.
“But I look forward to this test. I know he’s a way better version than that and he’s not a southpaw. He’s perfect. He’s orthodox. I’m kind of getting used to fighting southpaws these days. It’s just something I do so I’m looking forward to fighting a pure orthodox fighter that just does the sh*t I’ve seen a f*cking million times.”
In Adesanya’s mind, the win itself is the payoff but he plans on enjoying himself in every facet of this fight with Costa.
The middleweights have already engaged in brutal war of words and Adesanya plans on carrying that forward in the weeks and days until finally setting foot in the cage to settle the score with Costa once and for all.
“This is going to be so fun,” Adesanya said. “The lead up to the fight, I will bury him on the mic. Oh my god. His broken English. You watch. Pay attention.
“You guys just take notes and pay attention when it comes down to the press conferences, the weigh-ins, staredowns and the fight itself.”
When it comes to timing, Adesanya is currently just awaiting word from the UFC, although he had initially pegged June, July or August as the ideal date for his next title defense.
The global coronavirus pandemic has also forced changes to locations with fights now being held behind closed doors without an audience in attendance but none of that matters much to Adesanya so long as Costa is the opponent standing across from him.
“I don’t care if there is a crowd. I don’t care if there isn’t a crowd,” Adesanya said. “It doesn’t matter to me. ‘Fight Island’ sounds nice. Either there or somewhere in Florida. They’re crazy out there. It would be nice to go back to Dade county.”