After knocking out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 to claim the middleweight title, Israel Adesanya was supposed to face Paulo Costa for his first title defense. However, an injury delayed the UFC’s preferred timeline for that fight and so instead, Adesanya fought Yoel Romero at UFC 248, taking a unanimous decision win. Now, a grudge match between Adesanya and Costa is back on the menu but thus far, when that will happen has remained a mystery. Recently though, UFC commentator Joe Rogan said that he had been hearing that the delay in announcing the fight was because the UFC wanted Adesanya and Costa to host the return of The Ultimate Fighter. But apparently, that’s news to Adesanya’s camp.
Speaking to Submission Radio yesterday, Adesanya’s head coach Eugene Bareman responded to the rumors of “The Last Stylebender” hosting TUF, saying that he had no indication that is on the radar.
“Joe Rogan is more in the know than I am, because I don’t know anything about it,” Bareman said. “100%, I don’t know anything about it. No one has ever proposed it to me, I’ve never had any documentation, I’ve never had any electronic documentation saying anything about it at all. Joe Rogan, knows a lot more about it than me. So you can take that how you want it but it probably means that Joe Rogan’s source of information is not good.”
Rogan’s source of information may be no more complicated than Costa himself, who Tweeted out the idea several weeks ago, saying it wasn’t a done deal yet. But if that implies Costa has been in negotiations, that’s still further down the line than the UFC has gone with Adesanya. Bareman says that thus far, there has been no discussion with the UFC about when Adesanya will fight next, much less about coaching TUF. And if that is something the UFC wants to do, Bareman says the team will have to have a discussion about the benefits of doing so.
“Nothing has come over my desk in regards to Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya, fighting, nothing about that, and I’ve also had nothing in regard to The Ultimate Fighter,” Bareman said. “For The Ultimate Fighter to happen, a lot more would have to be done. Really, the decision for me would be a business decision. Like, how much would that help Israel make money? If it added greatly to his backend, to his pay-per-view, that might be worth giving it a go, even though the stories that we heard from The Ultimate Fighter are that it’s a hard time. It’s quite a hard time. It’s not the most enjoyable time, but if it makes dollars, it makes sense. These guys got to scrap for every dollar they can so that’s what I base my decision on, if it comes down to it. But it’s not a discussion point at the moment because it needs to come over my desk and nothing has come over my desk in regard to that.”
The answer could be as simple as, it hasn’t come across Bareman’s desk because the world is still in the middle of a global pandemic that would prevent the filming of a reality TV show like TUF. That would be fine with Bareman, who seems less interested in having Adesanya coach the show and more interested in going about the business of defending the middleweight title. The City Kickboxing head coach says that Adesanya is ready whenever the UFC is and that a September timeline would work well for them.
“We’re good to go, we’re just waiting on them,” Bareman said. “September is good for us. If the UFC want to put the fight on, we’ll fight it. Let’s push for September. It will give us enough time to get ready. A lot of the other noise to do with coronavirus and stuff will have calmed down. Let’s do it in September. Send the contract over. Let’s get it done.”
Adesanya is currently 19-0 in his MMA career and the fourth-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world.