It looks as though Israel Adesanya will not be facing Paulo Costa as expected in his first title defence.
Earlier this month, “The Last Stylebender” knocked out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 to win to the middleweight title. In his post-fight speech, he pointed to “overly-inflated balloon animal” Paulo Costa, who was seated ringside for the event, as his next opponent. It seemed a foregone conclusion. However, in a recent interview with The Schmo, UFC President Dana White revealed that Costa would not be available to fight due to injury.
“He had surgery on his bicep so he’s out for eight months, but we are working on something else with Israel right now,” White said.
He also dismissed the idea of Adesanya fighting light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, despite the pair continuing to sledge each other on social media.
“He just won the title. To do a Jones super fight right now doesn’t make sense. There’s guys in his own weight division that can fight.”
Earlier this morning, former title contender Yoel Romero tweeted Adesanya hinting at a future fight between them.
— Peoples Champ (@YoelRomeroMMA) October 29, 2019
To which the champion seemed to affirm in response and as a match-up he and coach Eugene Bareman had been “plotting”.
— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) October 30, 2019
Yoel Romero (13-4) has been a perennial contender in the UFC’s middleweight division. In 2017, he lost a unanimous decision to Whittaker for the interim title. He was then scheduled to fight Luke Rockhold for the interim title once again in February 2018, but missed weight and was ineligible to claim the title despite winning the bout via knockout. He then faced Whittaker, champion at the time, again in June last year and lost a split decision; although he had missed weight and was ineligible to win the title regardless. “Soldier of God” is currently ranked No. 2 in the division (per UFC Rankings) despite suffering losses in three of his last four bouts. In his last outing at UFC 241 in August, he lost a unanimous decision to Paulo Costa.
Adesanya (18-0) has had a perfect UFC run, taking out all seven opponents in the span of 20 months to claim gold.