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Paulo Costa now open to Israel Adesanya bout ‘if the people want’ it

In an ideal world, UFC middleweight Paulo Costa wants former champ Chris Weidman at MSG. But if the fans want to see it, he’d also fight fellow prospect Israel Adesanya.

MMA: UFC 226-Hall vs Costa Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Paulo Costa has made it clear he wants Chris Weidman next — but if that can’t come to fruition, there is another foe he’d be willing to fight.

In what was the biggest fight of his career, the rising UFC middleweight defeated Uriah Hall via second-round TKO at UFC 226 earlier this month. Immediately after the win, Costa informed the media in his post-fight scrum that he wished to meet former UFC champ Weidman at UFC 230 this November in New York City.

Unsurprisingly, Costa was asked about possibly fighting fellow prospect Israel Adesanya, who had beat Brad Tavares in The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale one night earlier. At the time, the Brazilian slugger didn’t sound too interested. But he recently told MMAjunkie Radio that though fighting “The Last Style Bender” isn’t his first choice, he’d take the fight if the fans and the UFC want it to happen.

“The first time I heard his name was on Friday when he fought,” said Costa, who added that Adesanya would be an easier fight for him than Weidman. “People asked me about this fight, and I said I don’t know this guy. But if the people want this fight, let’s make this fight.

“My priority is Chris Weidman. He’s a former champion, he’s very famous in the world, and he’s higher ranked. But I’m a fighter, and the UFC decides. (UFC President) Dana White decides. I’m here to make the biggest and the greatest fights. So if he wants it and everybody wants it, I’ll fight Israel.”

Costa and Adesanya would both say yes to the bout, but it doesn’t look like it will happen right away. UFC president Dana White said after UFC 226 that the promotion was likely going to go in a different direction with both up-and-comers.

Adesanya hinted in a recent interview on Joe Rogan’s MMA Show that the UFC wants him to fight Costa once both of them are more popular in the sport and ranked higher — perhaps in a title eliminator, or even in a title fight well down the road.

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