Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya knows a thing or three about Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori, who headline the UFC Vegas 41 fight card this Sat. night (Oct. 23, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Adesanya stopped Costa at UFC 253 and holds decision wins over Vettori at UFC on FOX 29 (split) and UFC 263 (unanimous). That makes “The Last Stylebender” the most qualified analyst when it comes to deconstructing their five-round affair.
“Vettori’s biggest weapon in this fight is his chin,” Adesanya said (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “That block head – that fucking LEGO block head. That’s his biggest weapon in this fight because he can take Costa to deep water by taking punishment – some rope-a-dope shit without the rope-a-dope, just walking forward and taking punishment. … He can take a lot of punishment, I’ll give him that. I would say his method of victory is just taking Costa to deep water by grappling him and stalling or just making him work. But Vettori has to be willing to try and actually do something rather than just stall.”
Prior to their respective losses to Adesanya, both Costa and Vettori were riding impressive win streaks. “The Eraser” (13-1) racked up five straight victories under the UFC banner, including a “Fight of the Night” against Yoel Romero. As for “The Italian Dream” (17-5-1), he also went on five-fight tear, disposing of Kevin Holland and Jack Hermansson along the way.
“Costa’s path to victory in this fight? Get him out early,” Adesanya continued. “I feel like, do what you did that got you to the dance, that got you this far, because you’re not fighting me, you’re fighting Vettori and he’s got shit footwork, even worse than you. So I feel like Costa can just do what he does and just bull rush him, bulldoze him. But be careful of the takedowns because Vettori is going to try that to time it and take him down. But like I said, he has good counter wrestling, good defense. I want to see my children do well. I really wish the best for my kids and my kid’s kid.”
Costa is ranked No. 2 against No. 5 for Vettori, but neither combatant is considered a title contender at this time, with Adesanya rematching Robert Whittaker in January and the winner of that fight moving on to face the winner of Derek Brunson vs. Jared Cannonier at some point mid-2022.