Middleweight ruler Adesanya is due to defend his title against Cuban-born Yoel Romero at UFC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7, and ahead of that has been conducting media duties.

One such appearance in New Zealand on Friday – ahead of the UFC’s show in Auckland the following day – caused controversy when Adesanya referenced the Twin Towers in outlining what he would do to the 42-year-old Romero when they meet.   

“He’s a guy no one wants to fight. Boogeyman, everyone keeps saying – even Darren Till – ‘I’ll fight anyone except Yoel,’” said Adesanya. 

“Why? I’ve seen him get rocked. I’ve seen him get stopped. I’ve seen him get bloodied. I’ve seen him cry. I’ll make him cry.

“He’s human like anyone else, and everyone likes to make this myth about, ‘Oh, he’s steel, like kicking steel,’ or you hit him and he doesn’t fall.

“I’ll touch him enough times. I’ll touch him enough times and eventually he’ll crumble like the Twin Towers.”

Unbeaten Brazilian fighter Costa – who is 5-0 in the UFC – took exception to those comments, writing on Twitter: “You are a disgusting piece of sh*t.

“How dare you make a joke disrespecting the thousands who died and the heroic firefighters and police. I will really kill you, dirty kiwi [sic].”

Some fans supported Costa’s response, calling out Adesanya for the remarks.

Others, however, felt Costa has overreacted and was himself guilty of racist remarks by branding Adesanya a “dirty Kiwi.”

The 28-year-old Costa – nicknamed ‘Borrachinha’ – defeated the veteran Romero via unanimous decision back in August.

The unbeaten Adesanya – who is 18-0 overall and 7-0 in the UFC – meanwhile will put his undisputed middleweight title on the line for the first time when he meets Romero, after his knockout win over Robert Whittaker in October.  

Beyond Romero, a grudge match with Costa could well be brewing.

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