Israel Adesanya leaves Paulo Costa a bloody mess after UFC 253 title defence

Israel Adesanya is still the UFC 's middleweight champion. And in truth, his second title defence was one of his easiest fights in the promotion.

'The Last Stylebender' made the second defence of his 185lb title in the early hours of Sunday morning in the main event of UFC 253.

Adesanya's second task for his reign as middleweight king came in the form of undefeated Brazilian Paulo Costa, who had entered the fight with 12 finishes to his name.

The ferocious Costa was tipped by many to give the champion the toughest test of his mixed martial arts career. That, however, couldn't have been any further from the case.

The Nigerian-born Kiwi put on a clinic from the outset, expertly utilising his range and picking Costa apart with perfectly-placed and perfectly-timed leg kicks.

Those leg kicks soon paid dividends, with Costa's movement and explosiveness greatly compromised.

As Costa began to worry about sustaining more excruciating leg kicks, Adesanya started utilising his full arsenal of kicks – unleashing nasty body and question mark kicks.

A lead head kick from the 31-year-old in the second round opened up a nasty cut on Costa's right eye.

Adesanya, figuratively and literally, smelt blood and began to open up more with his striking.

And in a similar fashion to how he ended Whittaker's reign as middleweight king last November, a nasty left counter left hook from Adesanya signalled the beginning of the end.

That hook only landed partially but was enough to send the already-dazed Costa to the canvas.

Adesanya didn't hesitate to jump on 'Borrachinha', reigning down a barrage of strikes that forced referee Jason Herzog to call a halt to proceedings with a minute of the second left.

In truth, Adesanya's "sternest test" ended up being anything but that. That was in part to Costa's reluctance to throw any heavy leather, which came as a huge surprise to many.

"I've been telling you guys, but everyone thinks [otherwise]," Adesanya declared after his successful second title defence. "Like I Roy Jones Jr said, 'Y'all must've forgot.

"'Y'all must've forgot' because of last time [Yoel Romero fight]. You thought, 'Oh, he's so boring. Blah, blah, blah.' And I see all you media people as well with your little clickbait headlines.

"But trust me, I had to make y'all remember. I had to remind the world. Why? We the best."

Having easily disposed of 'The Eraser', Adesanya has already mapped out plans for his third title defence.

"I told you guys, Anderson Silva lived a great legacy," he said. "And I said I want to do service to the middleweight division. And that's a hard work to follow.

"But we're doing the work, right, Euge? I already DM'd Jared Cannonier. He's a hell of a dude, I love his energy, he's a beautiful man.

"And I said, 'You destroy Robert Whittaker and you're next.' He is the one I want to fight next."

UFC 253 results

Israel Adesanya def. Paulo Costa via second-round TKO (3:59)

Jan Blachowicz def. Dominick Reyes via second-round TKO (4:36) (Blachowicz claims the vacant light-heavyweight title)

Brandon Royval def. Kai Kara-France via sub (guillotine) (R2, 0:48)

Ketlen Vieira def. Sijara Eubanks via unanimous decision

Hakeem Dawodu def. Zubaira Tukhugov via split decision

Preliminary Card

Brad Riddell def. Alex da Silva Coelho via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Jake Matthews def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Ludovit Klein def. Shane Young via first-round KO (1:16)

William Knight def. Aleksa Camur via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

Juan Espino def. Jeff Hughes via submission (scarf hold) (R1, 3:48)

Danilo Marques def. Khadis Ibragimov via UD (29-28 x2, 30-27)

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