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Israel Adesanya explains pre-fight encounter with Costa: He’s a ‘dog that barks behind the fence’

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Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa will settle one of the biggest rivalries in the sport today this coming weekend at UFC 253 on “Fight Island,” but that doesn’t mean the two middleweights haven’t had a moment of kindness throughout fight week.

In a video captured earlier this week, Adesanya and Costa crossed paths as they arrived on Abu Dhabi’s “Fight Island.” The two fighters have talked so much trash over the past year or so that fight fans expected them to throw down on sight (shout out to Dustin Poirier). Instead, “Last Stylebender” and “Eraser” came face-to-face and exchanged a cordial handshake, presenting fight fans will a real conundrum leading into UFC 253: Do Adesanya and Costa really hate each other?

Luckily for paying viewers hoping for cold-hearted action this Saturday night, Adesanya and Costa are still the rivals they portray to be in the public eye and on social media. “Last Stylebender” cleared up the friendly encounter from earlier this week when he spoke to reporters at UFC 253’s media day.

“What happened was I walked past him, and you’ll see in my [Instagram] story, and I checked him and what did he say — he said, ‘You good?’ I said I’m great,” said Adesanya. “Then he muffled something, and I doubled back and I went over there to kind of check his energy.”

While checking Costa’s energy Adesanya also decided to size the hulking middleweight up. As a “skinny” champion going up against a “muscular” contender, Adesanya is hoping to prove that quickness, precision, technique, and brain power are better fighting tools than natural strength and raw punching power.

“I went there, sized him up, patted him on the shoulder to feel how dense he is. I shook his hand cause I wanted to feel the kind of pressure he put on from a guy who said, ‘I would not shake his hand when I beat him.’ Cause he’s just like one of those dogs that barks behind the fence, but when the fence opens up, he’s just kind of like real timid. So I could feel that off him, it’s the energy.”

Adesanya, who will be defending his middleweight title for the second-straight time this weekend on “Fight Island,” believes he’s going to shock fight fans at how easily he defeats “Borrachinha.” For Costa, this is his chance to prove that he’s more than just a knockout artist with heavy hands. The Brazilian is hoping to prove he can be a precision striker with superior ground skills to boot.

UFC 253 will unravel later tonight (Sat., Sept. 26, 2020) live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 253 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN 2/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance (also on ESPN 2/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 253: “Adesanya vs. Costa” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.