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'An absolute stud' - UFC boss hails Israel Adesanya as MMA's 'next big superstar'

Israel Adesanya has received high praise from UFC president Dana White for his "demolition’"of Paulo Costa while defending his middleweight title yesterday.

Adesanya and Costa’s bout had been billed by White as a “fight of the year contender” in the build-up to UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi but the Nigerian-born Kiwi forced White to change that description.

Costa was expected to try to go toe-to-toe with Adesanya with his superior size but Adesanya kept him at bay with precise kicks and jabs before landing a TKO victory in the second round.

White relabelled it the “demolition of the year”.

"[Costa] is a savage normally but Adesanya shut him down tonight," White said.

"Costa usually goes after people like they owe him money… I think he landed one jab in this fight.

"Adesanya just went to work. Picked him apart piece by piece ... made it look really easy."

The win leaves Adesanya well and truly dominating the middleweight division having beaten three of the top five-ranked contenders in his division.

However, the Kiwi fighter did call out his next opponent in his post-fight interview last night, saying if third-ranked Jared Cannonier – currently on a three-fight win streak – beats No.1 contender and former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254, he deserves a shot.

White agreed, saying Adesanya has earned the right to call his shots.

""I love that about Israel you know, he is ready to for who’s next, who else thinks that they can beat me."

"I think he's going to be the next big superstar here, especially after tonight's performance.

"The kid is an absolute stud."