Stephen Thompson believes UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will “have a field day” when he takes on hulking knockout artist Paulo Costa.
Adesanya and Costa will collide for the UFC middleweight title in the main event of UFC 253 on September 26. Thompson, a striking specialist himself, believes the kickboxing transplant Adesanya will go to work on the powerful Costa when the cage door closes.
“I don’t consider Paulo Costa a technical striker at all,” Thompson said on Submission Radio, rating Costa’s skills. “I think he’s a brawler. I mean, you see him do it time and time again, he breaks people. For a guy that shredded and that big, he’s got cardio for days, this guy.”
“When [Costa] beat Uriah Hall first, he broke Uriah Hall mentally,” Thompson continued. “He just gave up out there. And of course you’re not gonna break Yoel Romero. And those guys fought pretty much exactly the same, came forward and swung for the fences.”
While Thompson concedes that Costa is both aggressive and powerful, he believes those traits will play directly into Adesanya’s hands.
“For someone like Izzy Adesanya, he’s got the potential to finish this guy second or third round,” Thompson said. “Izzy is a counter striker. He waits for guys to make their mistakes and he takes advantage of it, and I think this falls right into his game plan, what he does best, for Izzy.
“Paulo Costa’s aggressive and he swings,” Thompson continued. “He’s got a lot of big movement in his striking, he loops his strikes, which is going to be perfect for someone like Izzy to just take half a step back and counter back with a right hand or a left hook. Kind of like he did with Robert Whittaker, right? And Robert Whittaker I believe is faster than Paulo Costa. The only thing with Paulo Costa is that he’s durable. He’s very, very durable, he’s very tough to finish. I think after the first round, maybe Paulo Costa, if Izzy can tire him out just a little bit, it’s going to slow him down, and Israel Adesanya’s going to be able to have a field day counter striking this guy. I think I got my man Izzy winning that fight.”
What do you think of this breakdown from Stephen Thompson? Does Israel Adesanya have what it takes to stop Paulo Costa?