UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has a lot of challenges left ahead of him, but he doesn’t expect to cross paths with Paulo Costa again.
After spending the better part of a year building towards their eventual showdown at UFC 253, Adesanya and Costa appeared to be the start of an epic rivalry between two of the best in the world at 185 pounds.
The way the fight played out was much different than what many expected.
Adesanya dismantled Costa from start to finish, battering the Brazilian with kicks and then eventually using his hands to put him away following a devastating combination in the second round.
Afterwards, Costa was already demanding a rematch due to his distaste for Adesanya’s method of celebration after scoring the TKO win. Sadly for him, Adesanya feels like he’s already seen the last of Costa in his career.
“I don’t think I ever see him again to be honest,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting. “I think this is going to be like Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo. He has to let it go.”
While Adesanya remains undefeated in his mixed martial arts career, the flashy striker has tasted defeat previously when he was competing in kickboxing including one particularly nasty knockout that he’s seen played back for him hundreds of times by this point.
Brazilian Alex Pereira put Adesanya away with a vicious left-hook during their last encounter in 2017, less than a year before the future UFC champion made his debut in the octagon.
Since that time, opponent after opponent has taunted Adesanya with that knockout but none of it really bothers him because that’s a fight that already happened and he put it in the past. He’s not seeking vengeance against Pereira and he’s not consumed by a rematch that may never happen.
“I’ve lost a fight. I’ve been knocked out before by one of his countrymen,” Adesanya said about the past encounter with Pereira. “You know what the funny thing is the same guy that knocked me out, he’s the same guy still calling me out. So who’s really winning? You know why? Cause I don’t chase that. I don’t need it back.
“I’m like it happened, it taught me a valuable lesson in staying true to myself and true to my craft and not listening to what anyone else said. It taught me a really valuable lesson in that. So I’m grateful it happened but you don’t see me calling out the same guy. Like no, I’ve got to get it back. I don’t need it. It happened. It’s in the past.”
Even if Pereira eventually earns his way to the UFC one day, Adesanya still won’t be chasing that fight because nothing will ever erase the loss he had in their previous meeting.
He offers that same piece of wisdom to Costa, who is seemingly all consumed by a rematch after being finished in their main event clash at UFC 253.
“Even [if] I knock him out if he comes to the UFC, it’s never going to erase what happened,” Adesanya said. “It already happened. You just have to accept it and move on, which is the advice I give Paulo. You’re never going to get this one back. If by some crazy miracle or work ethic he does come up in the rankings again, he can’t unf*ck himself, you know what I mean?
“I’ve done it to him. I’ve embarrassed him. He just has to accept it and realize ‘my mouth wrote checks my ass couldn’t cash and Israel likes to collect.’ It happened and let it go. So that’s my advice to him cause that’s what I did.”
Losses aren’t something that haunt Adesanya, which has probably played a part in his ability to remain undefeated in MMA.
That’s why Adesanya believes Costa should just stop allowing the ghosts of the past haunt him and move forward with his career.
“I never really looked to go chase any losses that I’ve had back,” Adesanya explained. “I’ve gotten a few back in the past but that’s just cause they came up and I was like right, this is my chance at redemption but I’m fine with where I’m at.
“So he has to be all right with where he’s at and move on.”