PAULO COSTA is determined to earn a rematch with Israel Adesanya by making a 'statement' in his upcoming showdown with Robert Whittaker.
The Brazilian bruiser suffered a second-round TKO defeat to the middleweight king last September at UFC 253, the first of his professional mixed martial arts career.
Revenge has been on Costa's mind ever since that fateful morning in Abu Dhabi and is within touching distance following the booking of his April clash with former UFC middleweight champion Whittaker.
And according to his manager Wallid Ismail, The Eraser plans to re-position himself as the No.1 contender in the 185lb division by decimating fan favourite Whittaker.
Ismail told SunSport: "Its life or death. It's like that for us. Do you know what I mean?
"It's the fight of Paulo Costa's life. It's a statement. 'I was hurt when I fought Adesanya. 'I'm gonna prove [I'm the best] this fight.'
"If he knocks out Whittaker, everybody is going to say, 'Oh, he was hurt.'
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"How much is it going to sell Paulo and Adesanya if he knocks out Whittaker?"
Ismail is confident Costa's immense dislike of Adesanya will lead to him having his hand raised against the in-form Whittaker.
The 53-year-old added: "He's going to beat him. Because these guys hate each other."
Although Costa has one eye on a rematch with Adesanya, Ismail is refusing to let him look too far into the future.
He said: "I told Paulo, 'We need to be focused on Whittaker. And after, we gonna talk about Adesanya.'"
The winner of Whittaker vs Costa will likely be the next challenger for the 185lb title, the future of which is currently unknown following Adesanya's move up to light-heavyweight.
And Ismail believes the victor of the eagerly-anticipated match-up will vie for the title next.
He said: "We're focused on Whittaker. The winner of this fight is going to go fight for the belt.
"And with this fight, people need to understand, we don't take the easy fight."
Ismail, like many others, is looking forward to the match-up and believes it's the most logical bout for both men given where they currently find themselves.
The Jungle Fight founder said: "This is a fight we want to do. The first versus the second.
"We need to follow the rankings. This is the UFC. The UFC is the world championship.
"The people need to see the rankings and you need to follow the rankings. It's that simple."
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