MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 253, a five-round UFC middleweight title bout between champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Paulo Costa. The event takes place on Saturday, September 26 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Israel Adesanya (-170)
Adesanya (19-0) is the UFC middleweight champion. The 31-year-old Nigerian-born, New Zealand-based Adesanya is a perfect 8-0 in the UFC with notable wins over Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares, and Marvin Vettori. Adesanya is one of the most gifted strikers who has ever stepped foot into the Octagon. Blessed with a long reach, the ability of Adesanya to keep distance and land shots on his opponents makes him a very difficult fighter to defeat. He also has excellent takedown defense which makes it hard for his opponents to go to the grappling if the striking isn’t going well. Adesanya has shown incredible skills in all of his fight, not to mention pristine cardio and a solid chin. He is a true superstar in every definition of the word and if he beats Costa here, he could become the UFC’s biggest star.
Paulo Costa (+150)
Costa (13-0) is the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 29-year-old Brazilian is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC with notable wins over Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall, and Johny Hendricks. Costa first came into notice of UFC fans on TUF Brazil and in the six years since then, he has blossomed into one of the best middleweights in the UFC. Costa is a KO artist, with 11 of his 13 wins coming by knockout. He is an extremely aggressive fighter who constantly moves forward and throws with massive power in all of his strikes. So far that gameplan has worked for Costa as no one outside of Romero has really been able to give him any issues. The biggest question mark for Costa is his cardio as this will be the first 25-minute fight of his career. If his cardio holds up, he could very well pull off the upset.
Fight Breakdown: It’s very rare to see two undefeated fighters square off in the Octagon for a UFC title so that automatically makes this an intriguing fight. Then you look at the UFC careers of both Adesanya and Costa and you have to really believe this fight could be something special. Both fighters are unbeaten in the UFC and have shown very little weaknesses in this game, making this a tough fight to predict. Adesanya is so good at using his reach and length to keep his opponents at distance, but Costa has a knack of moving into the pocket and getting his opponents to fight in a phone booth. Ultimately, I believe that Adesanya’s ability to use his reach effectively, coupled with the fact this five is five rounds, will be the difference in who wins and loses. Although I expect a competitive fight, my prediction is for Adesanya to retain the UFC middleweight title by decision.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya wins via decision