Report: Israel Adesanya to defend middleweight belt against Paulo Costa at UFC 253

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After months of waiting, Israel Adesanya is finally set to face Paulo Costa.

The UFC middleweight champion will defend his title against the Brazilian at UFC 253 on Sept. 19, per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. Brazilian outlet Combate initially reported the news.

The location of the fight is reportedly TBD.

Costa confirmed the news only a few minutes later.

Adesanya captured the full middleweight belt in 2019 with an impressive win over Robert Whittaker, then beat Yoel Romero via unanimous decision at UFC 248 in March. There has been some past chatter about a superfight against light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, but Jones himself said that would have to wait until 2021.

The 13-0 Costa was originally on track to face Adesanya after beating Romero at UFC 241, but had to wait after undergoing biceps surgery. Adesanya called out Costa after his own win over Romero, saying “I see you soon, boy.”

Costa was in attendance for that match, and was seen jumping over the fence toward the Octagon after the decision was announced. Now, six months and a pandemic later, it looks like Costa will get another shot at one of UFC’s biggest rising stars.

UFC 253 will feature a battle of the undefeateds at middleweight. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
UFC 253 will feature a battle of the undefeateds at middleweight. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

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