‘Y’all must have forgot’ - Israel Adesanya plans to channel Roy Jones Jr in return to form against Paulo Costa
The reigning middleweight champion believes fans will be delivered a timely reminder of his skills when he faces off against ‘Borrachina’ in the main event at UFC 253 live on BT Sport on Saturday 26 September.
As one of the most naturally gifted athletes in combat sports, Roy Jones Jr remains an inspiration to many across the globe - and Israel Adesanya is no different.
However, it was his music, not his boxing ability, that Adesanya referenced during media duties ahead of UFC 253 when talking about how he will react to his underwhelming victory over Yoel Romero last time out.
Reciting the hook from Junior’s forgotten 2001 rap single of the same name, Adesanya said: “For me, I feel like Roy Jones Jr when he said ‘y’all must have forgot’. And this is only after one fight which didn’t live up to what I expected it to be.
“I expected to be a finisher.”
What played out inside the Octagon at UFC 248 was as perplexing as it was tedious, with both Adesanya and Romero seemingly happy to watch the clock run down in a largely uneventful five-round affair.
In the end the champ got the job done – and speaking ahead of his latest title defence, he laid the blame for that night squarely at the feet of his 43-year-old rival.
“The last fight I brought my best but my opponent brought something completely different, which to his credit, is what he is supposed to do,” the New Zealander said.
He’s going to come forwards swinging like a buffoon and I’m gonna clown him
- Israel Adesanya on Paulo Costa
“At the same time, you’re supposed to fight and he wasn’t willing to fight. I can’t fight by myself.
“So the last fight was a bit of a weird one but it is what it is and we move forwards with this next fight.”
Luckily for the fans, the 31-year-old superstar suggested forthcoming rival Paulo Costa’s lack of intelligence means a repeat of that stinker should be off the cards at UFC 253.
“He’s too dumb,” Adesanya replied, when asked if Costa might emulate Romero’s conservative approach.
“He’s going to come forwards swinging like a buffoon and I’m gonna clown him.”
Confidence and charisma have been two of Adesanya’s most outstanding attributes since joining the UFC a little over a two years ago; no-one has pieced together the soundbites, the style and the stoppages in such a way since the peak years of Conor McGregor’s ascent to superstardom.
Despite his repeated predictions of an ‘easy night’ against Costa, Adesanya is quick to reject any notion of complacency, going as far as to accuse the challenger of the same behaviour.
“He’s a dangerous man, I’ve said that before,” he continued.
“He’s a dangerous man - but so am I. What’s going to be his downfall is his lacklustre-ness when it comes to me.
“He thinks he’s just going to walk though whatever I throw at him. I invite him to try.”
Predictably, the Brazilian has been vocal in his objection to Adesanya’s visions of the future, declaring his intentions to ‘destroy’ the champion when they meet on UFC’s return to Fight Island.
“I’m not going to just be a winner by one advantage or one point. I’m going to destroy him,” the 29-year-old, who has won 11 of his 13 fights by knockout, told reporters.
“I don’t care if judges give some rounds to him because I’m not going to take this fight by decision. I’m training to destroy him. I believe the fighter cannot be sad when he lost by decision because it needs to be clear. That’s what I do.
“I go to finish the fight and not let judges [get involved]. I go to destroy him. That’s what I do. I’m training to do that, to destroy him.
“For sure, I don’t believe he will be there until the third round. I will finish the fight with ground and pound. I will take him down. I will finish this fight with striking, but he will not get into the third round.”
On paper, the clash looks set to pit Adesanya’s technical striking and fluid movement against the Belo Horizonte native's brutal, raw power – but Costa rejects assertions he lacks the proficiency to match the man sat fourth in UFC's pound-for-pound rankings in the striking department.
People think because I am so strong I have no accuracy
- Paulo Costa
“I throw more punches than him. More hits than him,” Costa said.
“The people who say that [Adesanya is a better striker] because I’m so strong and they think I have no accuracy.”
Likewise, Adesanya seems unconcerned with how the fight might be labelled stylistically, instead hoping to focus on his own enjoyment in order to draw out the best version on himself on fight night.
“I just worry about expressing myself, having fun,” he added.
“Winning just comes with that to be honest. I definitely love winning don’t get me wrong but most of my time I’m thinking about how I’m going to express myself in this fight.
“When I do that, when I’m having fun, I’m the best in the world.”
Watch UFC 253: Adesanya v Costa exclusively live on BT Sport 1 HD, the BT Sport app and BTSport.com from 1am on Saturday 26 September.