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Paulo Costa’s manager says Eugene Bareman ‘lied,’ Israel Adesanya turned down UFC 251 fight

Paulo Costa is expected to challenge Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight gold next.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Israel Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman recently said that “nothing has come over my desk in regards” to a UFC title fight between his protege and No. 1 contender Paulo Costa, but “Borrachinha’s” manager Wallid Ismail disputes that claim.

Ismail reached out to MMA Fighting to say that Bareman “lied” about never being offered a date for a championship fight with the undefeated Brazilian. According to the manager, UFC considered booking the middleweight title for UFC 251 on July 11 in Abu Dhabi, but eventually went a different direction.

“His coach lied,” Ismail told MMA Fighting. “He has to understand that when he says something in Australia we can see it right away in Brazil through the internet. He can’t lie. There was an offer for July 11, and then they said August, and now they are talking September or October.”

Costa was expected to face Adesanya earlier this year, but a lingering arm injury prevented it from happening. Yoel Romero stepped in to challenge “The Last Stylebender” instead, losing a lackluster decision in March.

“Adesanya can’t choose opponents, this is not a f***ing video game,” Ismail said. “If he wants to choose opponents, just buy the UFC game. This is MMA and you have to put the No. 1 contender against the champion. The point is, this champion had a disaster of a performance last time he fought, so ‘Borrachinha’ is coming to save this pay-per-view.”

Even though Costa and his team were targeting a July date with Adesanya, they also campaigned for a coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter. Ismail says this rivalry would break ratings records and “Dana White loved the idea.” Ismail doesn’t have a definite answer from the UFC on whether the reality show will actually happen, though.

“It would be huge,” Ismail said of a possible TUF season and the actual title fight. “Everybody loves watching two guys that hate each other. When was the last time you saw two undefeated guys fighting for the belt? It’s going to be incredible.”

Costa lives and trains in Brazil and would not be allowed in the United States for a UFC fight due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The UFC has a series of events booked for Las Vegas in August, so Costa is not an option for any of those shows. With a date yet to be determined, Ismail sends a final message to the unbeaten 185-pound king.

“Don’t run away from this fight please,” Ismail said. “His coach is trying to act like a manager now and that’s how careers end. We’re hoping to have a date some time this year, and I just hope they stop crying. Adesanya is crying. He can’t say anything online until he actually signs the deal. If you’re offered a fight and don’t take it, you can’t say anything.”

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