MMA manager Wallid Ismail says that UFC middleweight Paulo Costa made a “tactical error” in his fight against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253.
Adesanya spent the majority of the first round working from the outside and landing hard low kicks that compromised Costa’s ability to move. Most figured that Costa would make the adjustments in the second round and try to move inside, but he continued to stay on the outside and get his leg chewed up. All the low kicks left Costa open to Adesanya’s strikes, and the champ was able to get the TKO finish with punches in the second round.
While Adesanya has been praised for his performance, many have criticized Costa for his showing, including UFC president Dana White, who said he fought “very weird.” In a new interview, Costa’s manager Ismail admitted that “Borrachinha” didn’t follow the gameplan, and ultimately, it led to his demise as he suffered the first loss of his MMA career.
“When Adesanya started kicking him in the calf, he was supposed to have changed his strategy. The strategy was to keep (composed) the first two rounds and go all out for the rest of the fight to try to knock him out. He was supposed to have changed the strategy in the third minute of the first round. Or put him down, beat him, but do something, because he wouldn’t be able to take that many kicks to the calf. He only endured it because it is very thick-skinned. There was a very big tactical error,” Ismail said to AG Fight.
Ismail also said that while Costa accepts the loss, he also pointed out that Costa had a sleepless night the day before UFC 253 and it may have played a role in his performance.
“It wasn’t the ‘Borrachinha’ over there. In addition to not doing well tactically, he had this whole problem of not having rested on the last day. There was a mistake in strategy, in recovery. The time zone ends up with the guy, who travels a lot knows that. But there’s no excuse. In addition to all this, Israel fought very well,” Ismail said.
Ismail says that Costa is serious about wanting a rematch with Adesanya sometime early next year, but it seems like the UFC is going to go with Jared Cannonier next. In that case, Costa will have to fight someone else in the top-15 as he looks to bounce back from this loss to Adesanya.