Paulo Costa hopes to put a bit of a hurting on UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya when they step into the cage together at UFC 253.
Once he’s done that—and sufficiently entertained the fans—he intends to put a stamp on things with yet another stoppage win.
“I don’t want to just beat him very quickly,” Costa told SCMP MMA recently. “I want to bring some entertainment to the people. I hope we can go into the second round and then I think he will break then.”
Costa, currently a perfect 13-0, has become quite a star in the lead-up to his first shot at the UFC middleweight crown. The Brazilian juggernaut believes much of his popularity stems from his thrilling, 2019 decision victory over Yoel Romero.
“After I beat Romero I am certain that people who had some doubts about my skills, they changed their minds,” Costa said. “People started to believe I was the really, real deal, just not another guy who can fight. In the right moment, I grew up. Under the high pressure, I grew.
“The fight against Romero was a real war,” Costa added. “I am so proud of that fight. It was very important for me. The guys that I work with made me lift myself to another level. I came from jiu-jitsu, and I became a very good boxer but against Romero I think I proved I can wrestle as well. He tried to take me down and I managed to avoid the takedowns and that came from the work my team had done with me.
“That showed I could fight for the belt and that’s why I am so confident right now. I will become the new champion.”
Costa is not surprised by his current surge in popularity. The fighter and the people he surrounds himself with always felt it was inevitable.
“Me, my family, my whole team, the people who are around me, everybody knows my skills and that I would be a champion,” Costa said. “We have known at the right moment, and the right time, I would be popular, my chance would come. So we are comfortable with my position.”
UFC 253 goes down on September 26. Do you think Paulo Costa will become the UFC middleweight champion in the main event?