Paulo Costa’s longtime manager Wallid Ismail reveals that “Borrachinha” was planning on moving up to light heavyweight after taking the middleweight title away from Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, but everything changed after “The Last Stylebender’s” post-fight antics.
Costa was stopped by Adesanya in the second round of Saturday night’s title bout in Abu Dhabi, suffering his first loss as a professional MMA fighter, and Ismail told MMA Fighting on Monday that Adesanya “riding” Costa after the stoppage convinced the Brazilian to postpone his 205-pound debut in order to get revenge.
“Adesanya is his focus,” Ismail said. “He was thinking about moving up in weight but won’t anymore because he wants to get Adesanya, and the UFC owes him that. He will stay [at 185] only to get Adesanya because he’s really upset, outraged with Adesanya’s post-fight attitude. He’s a bum. Warriors fight and when it’s over, it’s over. But doing that after the fight? He’s a bum, and he can expect a nightmare coming at him.”
According to Ismail, Adesanya’s “disrespectful” antics got Costa fired up.
“You can’t do that,” Ismail said. “‘Borrachinha’ is angry. It was disgusting, (Adesanya) showed his lack of character. Two warriors settle their issues in the fight, but he’s a bum. That’s the worst thing he could have done. (Costa) is pure anger right now.”
Ismail gives Adesanya all the credit for the victory and admits they had the wrong strategy for the match, but says “it wasn’t ‘Borrachinha’ that night.” Costa broke his silence on the loss on Monday, saying “only we know what happened.” Ismail said the Brazilian did not sleep the night before UFC 253 due to the time zone difference, “but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
Costa’s game plan was to hold back during the first couple of rounds and unleashing in the final three, Ismail said, but wasn’t the right call in the end.
“All merits to Adesanya for landing the kick, but ‘Borrachinha’ was too passive and the strategy was wrong,” Ismail said. “We should have changed (the strategy) after the first kicks landed and went to war. We know that now. He’s not a tactical fighter, he’s a war fighter.”
“He’s very upset. He’s very upset,” he said of Costa. “You can lose, but lose in a war, going forward, all or nothing. That’s what upsets him. And what pissed him off the most was Adesanya’s disrespect. He’s mad at him. He said Adesanya will pay for what he’s done. He spoke with Adesanya (after the fight) because he hadn’t seen that yet. That disrespect, he said Adesanya will pay for that.”
With the move to light heavyweight now on hold, Ismail said Costa’s team plans on asking for an immediate rematch with “The Last Stylebender” or book him against a top-contender on the same night of Adesanya’s next title defense.