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Paulo Costa: With Usain Bolt sidelined, Israel Adesanya is now ‘No. 1 fastest runner in the world’

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Paulo Costa has a good feeling he knows Israel Adesanya’s strategy ahead of their fight at UFC 253.

The highly anticipated middleweight title fight that will headline the upcoming pay-per-view will feature a pair of undefeated fighters whose disdain for each other has only grown in the months leading up to their eventual clash.

The war of words has only ratcheted up as the anticipation for the event continues to grow.

While Adesanya has lobbed performance-enhancing drug accusations at the Brazilian, Costa countered by pointing at the champion’s recent outing against Yoel Romero as further proof that he’s not truly coming to fight on Sept. 26.

On that night, Adesanya outpointed Romero on the scorecards but the 25-minute affair saw both fighters show extreme caution about engaging in any kind of serious exchanges on the feet. Costa predicts a similar strategy coming from Adesanya when they finally stand across the octagon from each other in just a couple of weeks.

“I think he will be like [Yoel] Romero [fight] — more running,” Costa said about Adesanya’s game plan when speaking to reporters during the UFC 253 virtual media day.

“I don’t know if you know but Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world he got coronavirus. I wish the best for him, good recovery for him. But with this news, now Adesanya is now the No. 1 fastest man in the world. Adesanya is now official the No. 1 fastest runner of the world.”

Regardless of how Adesanya approaches the matchup, Costa has promised to deliver a memorable performance because he’s not coming to impress the judges.

With 13 wins on his resume, and 11 coming by way of knockout, Costa plans to send Adesanya packing much the same way so there’s no doubt about the winner in their fight.

“I’m not going to just be a winner by one advantage or one point. I’m going to destroy him,” Costa said. “I don’t care for judges gives some round to him because I’m not going to take this fight by decision. I’m training to destroy him. I believe the fighter cannot be sad when he lost by decision because it needs to be clear. That’s what I do.

“I go to finish the fight and not let judges [get involved]. I go to destroy him. That’s what I do. I’m training to do that, to destroy him. For sure, I don’t believe he will be there until the third round. I will finish the fight with ground and pound. I will take him down. I will finish this fight with striking, but he will not get on the third round.”

When it comes to the stylistic matchup, many believe Adesanya is the more technical striker while Costa is an aggressive powerhouse with dynamite in both hands.

That’s part of the reason why Adesanya has promised to pick Costa apart on the feet by using pinpoint accuracy while also avoiding the constant haymakers being thrown at him.

Costa won’t disagree that he’s going to be head hunting for the knockout when facing Adesanya but he points to the statistics when judging their striking credentials.

Based on numbers provided by the UFC, Costa lands an average of just over four more significant strikes per minute than Adesanya while also displaying better accuracy where he’s connecting with 57 percent of his shots while the reigning middleweight champion stays on target 48 percent of the time.

“I throw more punches than him. More hits than him,” Costa said. “The people who say that is because I’m so strong and they think I have no accuracy.”

Soon enough all the talking will be done and Costa will be staring across the octagon at Adesanya and their differences will be settled in combat.

Whether the mental warfare will affect one fighter over another remains a mystery but for his part, Costa doesn’t seem to care much if he’s inside Adesanya’s head right now or not because he expects the results to be the same no matter what.

“I don’t try to break him mentally before. If he’s broken, it’s because he’s weak,” Costa said. “If he’s sh*tting his pants before the fight, too bad for him. I’m confident in myself. I’m confident in my training. I know what I did in my sparring days. I know everything I’m working for.

“I’m working for to cut his head off. I don’t know if his mind is broken or not. I don’t care. I go there and I will erase him if he’s good or not. If he sh*ts his pants or not. I will finish him.”