The long-awaited showdown between UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa is set for UFC 253.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed the fight is in the process of being finalized for the Sept. 19 fight card after an initial report from Combate. UFC 253 is expected to take place in Las Vegas, though a venue has not been finalized.
Soon after news of the matchup broke, Costa also confirmed the fight on Twitter.
The fight is on folks!— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) July 18, 2020
In September I ll bring the Show up
The rivals were expected to meet earlier this year, but a nagging shoulder injury and surgery forced Costa to delay a No. 1 contender spot he earned with a decision over Yoel Romero. Needing a headliner for UFC 248 in March, Adesanya instead chose to take on Romero and earned a unanimous decision in a widely panned fight.
Costa recovered in time to take on Adesanya, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the UFC to postpone or cancel several events, and the matchup was delayed. Asked this week about the matchup, UFC President Dana White said the promotion was more focused on pulling off events on Fight Island.
Adesanya attempts the second defense of his unified title after wins over Romero and a star-making performance to capture the belt from Robert Whittaker. After winning the belt, he jawed at a cageside Costa.
Since then, the middleweights have repeatedly lobbed insults at each other in public appearances and interviews.
Prior to outpointing Romero, Costa rocketed up the middleweight ranks with four straight TKO victories.