Paulo Costa sensed weakness in Israel Adesanya during their joint-appearance on ESPN SportsCenter.
Costa challenges UFC middleweight champion Adesanya for the crown in the main event of UFC 253. Both champion and challenger recently appeared together on ESPN SportsCenter, which is where Costa believes Adesanya showed his lack of confidence heading into their bout.
“Yes finally, right? And as you saw, when I gave the opportunity to speak with him directly, he showed how unconfident he is," Costa told Submission Radio. "He tried to show every time [his trophies] he got. Like, every time he went, ‘oh, look how good I am’. He needed to prove to the people and to himself that he’s good. If you really believe you’re very good, you don’t need to show this kind of stuff, but he froze. And this is what he did when he met a potential competitor, a real competitor like me, like he froze against Romero. He’s used to doing that. He called out Jon Jones to fight. And then when Jon Jones accepted his challenge, he said, ‘no, I’m not prepared yet, I need one or two years to get more weight, to get more muscle to fight Jon Jones’. So, Adesanya, unfortunately, he is this kind of guy who freezes when he faces a real competitor."
Costa and Adesanya have been rivals for quite some time now, but the appearance on SportsCenter was the first time they virtall came face-to-face since the title fight was announced. The challenger also believes he got into the champion’s head during their mutual appearance.
“I think so. I think I messed with his mind," Costa shared. "But not because I just talked with him in the same interview on the same Facetime, just because of my persona as a fighter messed with his head. He knows already he’s in trouble. How I can damage him, how I can hit him badly. So, that’s why I think I messed with his mind. I’m not worried about him. He’s good, he’s fast, quick. But I know also he cannot damage me. He cannot inflict a lot of damage on me because I’m stronger than him, and he’s not the kind of guy who comes with a hard punch, just counter punches. So, I’m not worried about him for this fight. But he’s a bunch messed up in his mind for this fight."
UFC 253 takes place on Saturday, September 26 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada with Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.