LAS VEGAS – Israel Adesanya needs to see more out of Luke Rockhold before fighting him.
Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) will return from an layoff of more than three years when he faces Paulo Costa (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City on Aug. 20.
The former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion told MMA Junkie in a recent interview that he’s the only man who can dethrone Adesanya (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC), and “The Last Stylebender” is willing to put that theory to the test if Rockhold beats Costa in impressive fashion.
“Costa, depends how (Rockhold) beats him,” Adesanya told reporters Wednesday at UFC 276 media day. “But yeah, he’s getting on so I’d like to get that under my belt, as well. When is the last time he fought? You can’t just fight Costa. You’ve got to do something more. Show me something. Like I said, depends on how he beats Costa.
“I just want to kill all these guys, all these names, and Rockhold’s definitely one of those names that can be on that list.”
Adesanya aims to notch his fifth title defense against Jared Cannonier in Saturday’s UFC 276 headliner, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.