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- Yas Island - Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Media Coverage
- ESPN +
Unbeaten middleweight champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya (19-0, 14 KOs) will make his second title defense against undefeated Paulo “Borrachinha” Costa (13-0, 11 KOs, 1 SUB) in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Catch the action on pay-per-view card starting 10pm ET. In the co-main event, light heavyweights Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes (12-1, 7 KOs, 2 SUBs) and Poland’s Jan Blachowicz (26-8, 7 KOs, 9 SUBs) will meet for the vacant title. Let’s take a closer look at the main event - our top-rated online sportsbooks for UFC odds opened with the champ as a -167 favorite, with Costa at +139 on the comeback.
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Israel Adesanya (19-0, 14 KOs)
The Last Stylebender would probably love to forget about his first title defense. After being pumped up for a war between the champ and the violent Yoel Romero, we instead were forced to watch two dudes stare at each other for five rounds, waiting for somebody to go first. Adesanya walked away the winner, but lost plenty of fans for the snoozer.
The good news for Adesanya is that Paulo Costa will be far more aggressive. We know that Adesanya does his best work when he’s reacting to his opponents. Brad Tavares tried to push forward and got tuned up for his efforts. Derek Brunson thought he could wrestle his way to a win, but got knocked out in one round. In a title unification match, Robert Whittaker came to brawl and got put away inside two rounds. Kelvin Gastelum had some success early, but was dropped three times in the fifth round after the Kiwi figured out his timing and range.
The bad news for Adesanya is that Paulo Costa will be far more aggressive. The challenger’s entire fighting identity is built on hammering opponents into submission - and nobody has figured out how to stop him yet.
Paulo Henrique Costa (13-0, 11 KOs, 1 SUB)
Costa is unbeaten, with 12 stoppages in 13 pro wins. He lands over eight significant strikes a minute. He might be the most jacked middleweight in the division and has killshot power befitting his frame. With his boy band like looks, “Borrachinha” wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Magic Mike troupe. This is an easy dude to promote, which is partially how he rose so fast in the UFC. In just three fights, Costa went from fighting Oluwale Bamgbose to Romero.
We know exactly what Costa’s gonna do: the same thing he does every fight. After a brief feeling out period, Borrachinha will come forward and smash. If he has to take some hits in return, so be it - his durability is overlooked. We saw him go toe to toe with Uriah Hall and eat flush shots like popcorn. This is a guy that chased down Yoel Romero - something that nobody else has ever done.
He’s relentless, fearless and an absolute powerhouse. No matter how much Adesanya preps for him, there’s no way to really stimulate fighting a Terminator that looks like Ricky Martin.
Significant Striking Stats
Significant strikes landed per minute: Adesanya 3.96 / Costa 8.83
Striking accuracy: Adesanya 48% / Costa 59%
Strikes absorbed per minute: Adesanya 2.4 / Costa 5.79
Striking defense: Adesanya 65% / Costa 50%
Takedowns per 15 minutes: Adesanya - / Costa -
Takedown accuracy: Adesanya - / Costa -
Takedown defense: Adesanya 86% / Costa 81%
Submission average: Adesanya 0.35 / Costa 0
UFC Odds Pick: Adesanya to win at -167
One thing we can establish right off the bat: this is going to be a standup war. Neither man has ever attempted a takedown inside the octagon. In a kickboxing match, we’re going strong on Adesanya. Before he was an MMA fighter, he was an awesome kickboxer. Plus, the fight script should play right into his strengths as a counterstriker. Costa’s highlight reel is easy to fall in love with, which probably explains Adesanya’s line is so affordable. You should feel good about taking the champ on straight play anywhere up to -200.
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