Israel Adesanya Already Thinking About Next UFC Opponent

Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa

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UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya hasn’t defeated Yoel Romero at UFC 248 yet, but the 30-year-old superstar striking savant is already thinking about his next potential title defense.

Adesanya revealed per MMA Junkie that he wants to face undefeated middleweight monster Paulo Costa in his next fight, assuming the champ gets by Romero at UFC 248.

“I called him (out) after the last fight, but then – come on, man,” Adesanya said per MMA Junkie. “I’m going to pop that (expletive) before USADA does, I swear to God. I want to be the first one to do it.”

Costa is considered one of the top risers in the sport. That’s exactly why Adesanya wants to face 28-year-old next.

“He’s next in line…,” Adesanya said.


Why Paulo Costa Is Next in Line for UFC Middleweight Championship

Costa defeated Romero by decision at UFC 241 in August. The Brazilian powerhouse is ranked No. 2 in the 185-pound division and is the highest-ranked UFC middleweight Adesanya hasn’t faced.

Before Romero got the title shot at UFC 248, it was Costa who was on his way to getting the first crack at the newly crowned champ. But Costa suffered an injury that required surgery, so Adesanya and the UFC were forced to look at other options.

Romero was available. The 42-year-old is frequently mentioned as one of the best UFC fighters to have never won a title, and he conceivably could have been given the nod on the scorecards against Costa at UFC 241 anyway.

So now Adesanya is facing No. 3-ranked middleweight Romero at UFC 248 instead of Costa.

Besides, former middleweight champion Robert Whitaker is currently ranked No. 1 in the division, but Adesanya just defeated Whitaker by second-round knockout at UFC 243. That made Romero the top opponent available.

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Romero’s Title Shot Coming off 2 Straight Losses Confuses Some

Romero suffered decision losses to Robert Whitaker and Paulo Costa in his last two fights, so the Cuban getting a shot at the champ confuses some fans and media. But both those losses were heartbreakingly close contests that just happened to go the other way on the scorecards.

While Romero probably wasn’t expecting a title shot after going 0-2, Costa’s injury opened the door and Romero confidently strutted on through it.

Adesanya revealed per MMA Junkie that while a fighter getting a title shot coming off two losses isn’t ideal, what made it work for UFC 248 was the special situation all of the top-rated fighters in the 185-pound division found themselves in after Adesanya seized the undisputed middleweight title last year.

“It shouldn’t be a precedent, but you have to understand the landscape of the UFC middleweight division was weird,” Adesanya said. “I don’t want to be that guy, like the former champion, when you hold the division up. I want to be active. I want to be fighting.”


Adesanya Seeking Active Middleweight Championship Reign

Adesanya should have his hands full with Romero this weekend. But the champion intends to defeat his opponent at UFC 248 and move on to fighting again later this year as soon as possible. Adesanya wants to be the kind of UFC champion who fights more than just once or twice a year.

“I want to be an active champion,” Adesanya said. “I want to do right by the division like ‘GSP’ did to it, like Demetrious (Johnson) did at flyweight, like Anderson (Silva) did at middleweight. Make the middleweight division great, man.”

READ NEXT: UFC 248: Menacing Monster Yoel Romero’s Last Chance at Gold

Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson

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