Whilst he’s got his own fight to look forward to later this year — a title defense against two-time kickboxing rival Alex Pereira at UFC 281 in New York — Adesanya will certainly have interest in this Saturday’s event, during which former opponent Costa will look to push towards another crack at gold.
Since losing to “The Last Stylebender” in 2020, the Brazilian has fought once, falling to another defeat at the hands of Marvin Vettori in a bout surrounded by weight drama. Having slipped to #6 in the rankings, “Borrachinha” will target a return to winning ways in Utah.
In Costa’s way of doing so will be former champion Rockhold, who, after three years away from the Octagon, is looking to stake his claim for a shot at title redemption.
Ahead of the contest, the man sitting atop the middleweight mountain dove deep into the UFC 278 co-main event in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel. After a brief mention of Costa’s use of wine as an excuse for his defeat at UFC 253, Adesanya went about assessing what both men have to do to have their hand raised.
“Let’s bring out the wine… I’d say Luke should take him down. Luke should start wrestling straight away. Costa though, early on, (is dangerous), and also his hips. I remember with Yoel (Romero), same thing,” Adesanya said whilst demonstrating hip movement. “Yoel tried to take Costa down and Costa had the overhook, and he just wizarded him, and they got back up and smiled at each other.
“Luke, if he can just wrestle him, get him tired, wear those muscles out… do what I did, teep his legs, establish leg kicks a little bit, and start wrestling straight away. Make him second guess,” Adesanya added. “Costa, I think just do what he does. Just barrage him. If he clips him, he’s probably gonna drop Luke.”
Adesanya: My Brain Says Rockhold Will Win
After breaking down the bout, Adesanya provided his official prediction, and in doing so, he went against the odds and against many in the MMA community.
Seemingly backing Rockhold’s chin to hold up and his wrestling to cause Costa issues, the middleweight king sided with the returning Californian ahead of the August 20 pay-per-view event.
“Official pick… my brain goes Luke, so I’mma put Luke,” Adesanya predicted.
Whilst Rockhold has been adamant about his motivation and claimed to be at peak condition, both physically and mentally, ahead of his comeback, former rival Michael Bisping recently provided an inside scoop on the 37-year-old’s preparation, quoting Coach Jason Parillo as having noted that Rockhold hasn’t been sparring enough.
We’ll find out whether that proves to hamper the UFC veteran’s efforts against Brazilian powerhouse Costa this Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Do you agree with Israel Adesanya’s prediction for Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold?