City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman wants to convince the UFC that now is the time to match unbeaten talents Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.
Bareman led “The Last Stylebender” and teammate Dan Hooker to the biggest wins of their careers last weekend. Long before his win over Brad Tavares, Adesanya insisted that his next opponent would be the winner of Costa’s UFC 226 clash with Uriah Hall. However, speaking on the latest episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Adesanya claimed that Dana White told him personally that he isn’t ready to match him with Costa, who finished Hall in the second round of their middleweight tilt.
As far as Bareman is concerned, the value in matching Adesanya with Costa is the fact that two up-and-coming, unbeaten fighters would be set to collide. Yet, he believes if the UFC don’t make the fight now the promotion is taking a big risk with regard to Costa’s unbeaten record.
“Not matching them might make sense from Dana’s perspective. In my opinion, the appeal of the fight is having two unbeaten guys come up against each other, but the problem is I don’t know if Paulo Costa will remain unbeaten for that long,” Bareman told MMA Fighting.
“My argument would be to get that fight on now while they’re both undefeated. It’s more marketable now. I just think there are too many holes in Paulo Costa’s stand up to stay undefeated for very long. I think he will have trouble with high-level strikers.”
Bareman claims he’s even more comfortable with Adesanya facing off with Costa after the Brazilian’s winning performance against Hall.
“I would be happier for that matchup to happen after seeing [Costa’s] last fight than I was before it. Everybody has different opinions on the sport and I respect them all, but just from the way he fought I really don’t see him causing too many problems for Israel. Again, I think Paulo will struggle against elite opposition. The value in the fight is both guys being unbeaten, and I really don’t see Costa being undefeated for long.”
Speaking about Adesanya’s one-sided main event win over Brad Tavares, the head coach admitted he found some flaws in the City Kickboxing fighter’s display.
“Had you asked me straight after the fight I would’ve told you I was delighted with the performance, but as a coach what sticks out more are the errors — we’re always seeking perfection. Even if the performance is a really good one, there are going to be mistakes scattered throughout it. It’s not that I’m not satisfied, it’s just that I’m a little but more critical than most people, and coaches have to be.”
He highlighted a takedown that Adesanya conceded over the five rounds as the main critique of his student’s first UFC main event.
“Israel gave up a takedown,” Bareman recalled.
“He chose not to go for the whizzer and that would have stopped the takedown. Brad has got a really good takedown that we had specifically prepared for where he does a double shuck and turns the corner; he does an initial shot, then he does a second phase turn and then he runs the pipe. We had actually prepared for that, but Israel didn’t manage to counter it.
“Also, just in terms of his positioning, I felt he got too comfortable too early. We had practiced for him to be in a different position relative to the opponent. He felt as though Brad was leaning more toward the left hook than the right hand, and our plan was to avoid the right hand, but Israel felt as though Brad was favoring the left so he squared himself up a bit, probably more so than I’d like him to. I know these are very small things, but on another night the could cost you a fight.”
Although it’s in Bareman’s nature to be critical, his big takeaway from International Fight Week is that City Kickboxing can compete with anyone in the world.
“The big takeaway for all of us is: what we’re doing is working and it’s as good, if not better, than what some of the best people in the world are doing. There has always been a question mark on that and I think we somewhat answered it last week. Our system, our gyms, our coaches and our athletes are just as good as anywhere else in the world. That was the big takeaway from everyone in the gym, including Israel, myself and Dan — we know we’re at an elite level.”