UFC Fight Island: Dana White says Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa deal 'not done'

UFC president says only one of the fighters has so far agreed to middleweight bout

UFC president Dana White has denied reports a middleweight title clash between champion Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa has been agreed.

Brazilian outlet Combate claimed early on Sunday that a deal was in place for the pair to meet on September 19, with Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi mooted as the two options to host.

The bout, which would pit the unbeaten belt-holder against the undefeated No 2-ranked challenger, was reportedly set for UFC 253, a card that was originally earmarked to feature as headline Khabib Nurmagomedov against Justin Gaethje.

However, when asked following Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 2 in Abu Dhabi about Adesanya-Costa, White said only one of the fighters had actually signed.

“It’s not done,” he said. “They were told not to say anything. Combate breaks it immediately and tweets. The fight is not done."

On where the bout would be staged if agreed, White said: “Probably be here.”

White was also quizzed about whether Nurmagomedov-Gaethje could share that potential card, but said the lightweight champion is going to fight only "when he calls me”.

Nurmagomedov’s father died earlier this month from complications resulting from contracting Covid-19. White said, though, that he would not set a time limit on Nurmagomedov fighting next.

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faces Paulo Costa at UFC 253. AP Photo
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. AP Photo

“Khabib’s dad just died,” he said. “When he’s ready he’ll let me know.”

UFC Fight Night 2 was the third of four events at this month’s Fight Island, with the final show in the series on July 26. White, who returns to Las Vegas on Sunday, has overseen the inaugural fight festival, and confirmed he was delighted with how it played out.

“It’s been incredible,” he said. “The whole thing since the beginning has been a crazy ride. These are the people to do it with, I knew that. We’re here, we did it and one more to go. This next card’s very fun. I got to get home and start working on what’s next.”

Updated: July 19, 2020 09:10 AM


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