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Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa disagree on grappling skills: “This fight can be on the ground also”

Paulo Costa, Israel Adesanya
Image via @ufc on Instagram (photographer not listed)

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and his UFC 253 title challenger Paulo Costa don’t agree on who has the grappling edge.

Adesanya and Costa will meet in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday night. While the pair are known first and foremost as strikers, it sounds like they could end up grappling a bit too.

“Before I become a striker I was a grappler,” Costa said at the UFC 253 pre-fight press conference (via MMA Fighting). “I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu, my brother’s gym, my coach. I have a lot of knowledge on BJJ. Yes, this fight can be on the ground also.”

“You sucked as grappler,” Adesanya responded. “Whenever he shoots, he loses his gas tank within the first or second shot.”

“You never saw my grappling,” Costa replied.

“No one needs to see your grappling because you suck,” Adesanya added. “You were on TUF on the floor saying, ‘No, I gave my all. I give 100 percent.’ You can’t grapple for sh*t.”

Costa went on to downplay Adesanya’s experience in the grappling department, but the champion didn’t back down, threatening to tap his foe with a number of tricky submissions.

“Bullsh*t,” Costa said. “You’re a blue belt in jiu-jitsu. You cannot say nothing about jiu-jitsu. You’re like a kid in in jiu-jitsu. You don’t know how to do an armlock.”

“I’ll berimbolo you if I wanted to,” Adesanya replied. “I’ll grab your f*cking collar right now and put you in a bow-and-arrow.”

“You never put a gi on your skinny body,” Costa concluded. “Talk about jiu-jitsu with me. You’re crazy.”

Israel Adesanya will enter the UFC 253 main event having last fought at UFC 248 in March, when he defended the UFC middleweight title with a decision victory over Yoel Romero. He captured the division’s crown in October of 2019, when he knocked out Robert Whittaker. That victory was preceded by an interim title-winning decision triumph over Kelvin Gastelum and big wins over Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori. The champ is 19-0 overall.

UFC 253 will mark Paulo Costa’s first fight since since August, 2019, when he picked up his own decision victory over Yoel Romero. Other highlights of his resume include wins over Uriah Hall and Johny Hendricks. Like Adesanya, he’s unbeaten, boasting a 13-0 overall record.

Which of these two grappling stars do you think has the grappling edge?