Paulo Costa, the apparent No. 1 UFC middleweight contender, didn’t need any more motivation to fight Israel Adesanya after UFC 243. But he certainly got some.

After a run-in with the new champ cageside, Costa dismissed Adesanya’s performance against Robert Whittaker and promised a gruesome end when they meet in the octagon.

“When I put my hands on his head, his body – he’s going to feel it a lot,” Costa said on the ESPN+ post-fight show following the event at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. “I fear he can die in the Octagon, for sure.”

Costa said Adesanya “came at me” when cameras caught him challenging the champ post-fight. He said it was a good thing they didn’t get any closer.

”He cannot handle it from me,” Costa said. “When I close the distance, I can KO him.”

Adesanya immediately targeted Costa after winning the title with a second-round knockout of Whittaker. The Brazilian had flown to Australia to greet his next opponent, hoping Adesanya would emerge victorious.

And even though Adesanya won in style, Costa said the new champ has a fatal flaw, and Whittaker didn’t do well enough to expose it.

”I think Robert Whittaker started the fight very well,” Costa said. “He closed the distance, because everybody knows when you close the distance against Israel Adesanya, he loses.

”His distance, his timing – he cannot fight with guys who pressure him. Everybody watched that fight against (Kelvin) Gastelum. If Gastelum has my power, I think Gastelum knocks him out.”

Adesanya certainly got wobbled when he faced Gastelum in April at UFC 236. Gastelum pushed him more than any other opponent, but it wasn’t enough to erase the damage he’d done over five rounds.

Costa said the trick to beating Adesanya is pressure and a composure during exchanges.

”He has to have his eye on the target (and) look where he’s punching,” he said. “Robert Whittaker doesn’t do that, but I do.”

With more promotional material in the bank, Costa presumably will ready himself for what’s to come. The title is unified, and Whittaker is out of the picture. The date can’t come soon enough.

”Now we only have one fight to do,” he said. “One fight to match up. It’s me against Israel. I want this fight with all my soul. I will take his head off of this cage. You (can’t) believe how much I want this fight.”

And if Adesanya likes fighting in arenas, Costa said there’s plenty of them in his home country.

”I can come here to fight, but I’d like to bring this fight to Brazil,” he said. “We have a lot of fans in Brazil, a lot of support there. The people there love the sport, so I think it would be great in a big arena like this in Brazil. I think it would be very amazing.”