ABU DHABI – Paulo Costa didn’t live up to expectations for his first UFC title fight according to Dana White.
The UFC president said he was confused by how the Brazilian performed in his loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the UFC 253 main event in Abu Dhabi. Costa (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) lost by second-round TKO in a fight he had little success in.
White, who promoted the fight as a competitive bout that promised plenty of action, was surprised with how it actually played out.
“So much for ‘Fight of the Year’ – it was ‘Domination of the Year,’” White said at the post-fight news conference. “It was weird because if you look at every other fight that Costa has had, he comes out and goes after people like they owe him money.
“I think he landed one jab in this fight. He didn’t try to clinch on the fence, didn’t try to put pressure, kept going back to the center of the octagon. It was very weird.”
White expected a different performance from Costa. He thought Costa would pressure forward and keep a high volume of strikes, as often seen in his previous fight. This was the first professional loss in Costa’s career.
“If he fought the way he fights – I mean look at the way he fought Yoel Romero, one of the most dangerous guys ever, and then he stays on the outside, taking damage to that front leg (against Adesanya),” White said. “Then when he does rush in and get him up against the cage, he backs out to the center of the cage again.
“(He) never tried to get in the clinch. I think he only landed one jab (and) didn’t really thrown any punches when (Adesanya) threw kicks. It was very weird. I just sat there going, ‘Holy (explicit).’ Obviously Adesanya went to work, pieced him piece by piece, made it look really easy.”
Although White might not understand Costa’s decisions or strategy in the bout, he said Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) was also responsible for how the fight played out and praised the unbeaten middleweight champion.
“No matter what, it was Adesnaya put on a clinic,” White said. “The first three calf kicks busted up his leg and got him right in the side of the knee. (He) had a huge welt on the side of the knee, and then the shin to the eye and just absolutely dismantled him. (He) easily won the fight.”