Israel Adesanya once again proved his dominance in the middleweight division with a second-round TKO win over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday.
The champion was in the driver's seat for the first round. Costa showed some patience in waiting to commit to an attack but Adesanya took advantage of that wait-and-see approach by peppering him with leg kicks.
Costa was more interested in goading Adesanya into throwing more than actually throwing much himself:
The second round featured a more aggressive Adesanya and that was all kinds of bad news for the Eraser. The Last Stylebender opened up, continued to mercilessly attack the lead leg while also throwing head kicks. When he targeted the head with punches Costa quickly buckled and the champion added another successful title defense to his name.
It was as baffling a performance for Paulo Costa as it was a great performance for Adesanya. The champion was surely dominant but Costa's lack of activity and inability to mount any offense had analysts wondering what happened to the Borrachina that mowed over each of his opponents to this point.
The Last Stylebender already had an impressive UFC resume, but this win might be his best yet. His matchup with Costa is just the second time in the promotion's history that two undefeated male fighters have fought for a championship, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
Adesanya has already made quick work of a loaded middleweight division. His list of wins includes Anderson Silva (albeit an older version of The Spider), Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. There are some highly ranked contenders out there, but only one has the champion's eye right now.
"There's one more I'm really interested in and that's Jared Cannonier," Adesanya said, per Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com.
Cannonier has put together three straight wins by TKO and has a bout scheduled with former champion Whittaker in October. Adesanya will be watching that matchup very carefully, but at this point, it's hard to find someone in the division he won't be favored against.
Of course, for a fighter of Adesanya's caliber and profile, the prospect of a superfight is always in play. Jon Jones recently relinquished his light heavyweight title, but UFC President Dana White has still thrown out the possibility of a fight with Bones.
"If you're Jon Jones right now, you probably sit back and watch what happens this weekend, see who wins, how they win, and maybe make them defend the title and then you come back and try to regain it," White told TMZ Sports. "... Or you move up to heavyweight. Or if Adesanya wins this weekend, you fight Adesanya, I don't know. Jon Jones is in a really good position right now."
With both fighters coming in with unbeaten records and both presumably squarely in their primes, this is the kind of matchup fight fans dream of. If Adesanya stays put in the middleweight division, it's hard to imagine this will be the first matchup between these two strikers.
Regardless, Adesanya has struck first and remains the world's best middleweight at a perfect 20-0.