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ABU DHABI – The talk between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa is heating up going into their UFC 253 title fight.

Though neither man has really gotten the opportunity to show of their ground game in the UFC, an argument sparked up when Costa (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) was asked if his jiu-jitsu background could be the difference in his fight against middleweight champion Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) on Saturday.

“Before becoming a striker, I was a grappler,” Costa told reporters, including MMA Junkie, during Thursday’s UFC 253 press conference. “I’m a blackbelt in jiu-jitsu, my brother is here, my coach, and I have a lot of knowledge on BJJ and yes, this (ground game) can be on the fight also.”

Adesanya was quick to fire back, referencing Costa’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” stint and his loss to Marcio Alexandre that got him eliminated from the competition.

“He sucked as a grappler,” Adesanya interrupted. “Whenever he shoots, he loses his gas tank within the first or second shot.”

“You never saw my grappling,” Costa responded.

“No one needs to see your grappling, because you sucked,” Adesanya said. “You were on ‘TUF’ on the floor saying ‘No, I gave my all, I gave 100 percent.’ You can’t grapple for (expletive).”

UFC 253 takes place Saturday at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

The two continued to go back-and-forth, with Costa claiming that Adesanya is a blue belt that “doesn’t even know how to do an armlock.”

They’ve been trading barbs ever since they were on each other’s radars, but when Adesanya and Costa ran into each other in the hallway of their hotel, their encounter was unexpectedly cordial, where both men sized each other up.

Both sides have given their opinion of what happened, accusing each other of acting “different” when they got face-to-face.



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