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Israel Adesanya: I want to fight Yoel Romero, ‘the guy everyone thinks can beat me’

With Paulo Costa out until April of next year, Israel Adesanya wants to silence the doubters by fighting Yoel Romero next.

UFC 243 Whittaker v Adesanya Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya already has said he plans to defend his middleweight title at the beginning of 2020 against Yoel Romero.

Adesanya (18-0) remained undefeated when he won the UFC middleweight title by knocking out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 last month. The win was Adesanya’s seventh straight in the UFC, and he snapped the nine-fight winning streak of Whittaker and became the first man to finish him at 185-pounds.

Although it looked likely Adesanya would make his first title defense against Paulo Costa, the Brazilian is sidelined with a bicep injury until April, so Adesanya discussed a fight with Romero instead when he spoke to MMA Fighting.

“I want to defend my title again in February or March,” Adesanya said. “Because homeboy [Paulo Costa], the guy I called out next, he’s been put out for a while. He can’t fight for eight months so I want to try and get whoever I can, probably [Yoel] Romero is who I’m asking for, either February or March.”

Romero is coming off a loss against Costa at UFC 241 in August. The 42-year-old only has one win in his last four fights, losing two close decisions to Whittaker and last picking up a win when he knocked out Luke Rockhold in February 2018. Adesanya explained why this makes the fight with Romero not a wise one to take next.

“Nope, that’s not the fight as a matchmaker I’d get next because the guy’s coming off a loss,” Adesanya explained. “Not just one, not just two but three of his last four fights have been losses. That’s not the smart move to make next but as me, as a fighter I want to fight the guy everyone thinks can beat me.”

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