Sports UFC 253 best bets: Back Adesanya to keep title
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UFC 253 takes place Saturday night at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It features a middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa, as well as a vacant light heavyweight title bout between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz.
Here are two of the best bets for the pay-per-view event.
Israel Adesanya (-180) vs. Paulo Costa
On paper, this fight isn't a walk in the park for Adesanya. It'll never seem like an easy contest for any of Costa's opponents since he has tremendous power.
3 storylines to watch at UFC 253
Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against Paulo Costa in Saturday's UFC 253 main event at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Here are three key storylines heading into the pay-per-view event. Stakes are high in unique title bout This will only be the second time in UFC history that two undefeated fighters meet for a title. The first was Rashad Evans versus Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009; the latter won via knockout to capture the light heavyweight belt. Think about why this is so rare: In MMA, anyone can lose on any given night. It's a crazy sport.
But this is still a fight Adesanya should win based on his skill set and how it matches up with Costa's. I feel better about siding with the champion to retain his title than simply hoping Costa can land a knockout punch, and I'm ultimately more comfortable taking "The Last Stylebender" anywhere below the -200 mark.
Adesanya is a tactician at heart. He's a master of precision and timing. He lands a variety of strikes from the outside and uses his footwork to attack from all sorts of angles. And unlike a lot of fighters who share a similar style, the 31-year-old has a lot of power to go with it, most recently proven by his second-round thumping of Robert Whittaker last October to capture the 185-pound belt.
Meanwhile, Costa is a bulldozer - he constantly moves forward and throws with all he has. Costa is willing to eat a shot to dish out two, as seen in his "Fight of the Year" candidate against Yoel Romero in 2019. He seems to have a solid chin, so that works well. And if "The Eraser" lands with the right, you're going to sleep.
Champion Adesanya gets redemption chance vs Costa at UFC 253
After Israel Adesanya finally took up mixed martial arts full-time three years ago, he rocketed through the UFC ranks with a thrilling, athletic style of fighting. He even became an undisputed champion in just his 18th professional bout. But a few days before the coronavirus pandemic upended the sporting world, Adesanya looked nothing like a superstar in his first title defence. Six months after his desultory win over Yoel Romero in Las Vegas, Adesanya (19-0, 14 KOs) is on the other side of the globe to defend his middleweight belt against longtime antagonist Paulo Costa (13-0, 11 KOs) in the main event of UFC 253 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Costa's aggressive style presents an interesting test for Adesanya, but the champion should be able to pass it with flying colors. Adesanya will use his movement to stay out of danger, and he'll be able to pick the challenger apart from the outside using his speed and eight-inch reach advantage. As Costa comes forward, Adesanya will pepper him with punches and kicks.
Costa's biggest moments - and the best chance of an upset - will come in the early rounds, but expect the Brazilian bruiser to tire out by the fourth. Costa has never gone past the third round in his MMA career, and he showed signs of fatigue in the third against Romero. That's when Adesanya, who's typically a smarter fighter than Costa, will take over after a measured approach in the first 15 minutes.
The challenger ultimately needs a knockout to win this fight, and it simply feels much safer to count on Adesanya outpointing him en route to a decision or a late finish.
UFC 253 predictions
Ahead of Saturday's UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, theScore's Nick Baldwin makes his picks for the top bouts. Middleweight championship Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs. Paulo Costa (13-0) On paper, this is Adesanya's toughest test in the UFC. He's never fought someone with Costa's ferocity, and fans want to see how he'll deal with it. However, while Costa will have his moments in the fight, it wouldn't be surprising if Adesanya walks away with a rather lopsided victory.The champion's striking is as good as it gets. He uses his movement and footwork to attack from different angles while maintaining a solid amount of power.
Sijara Eubanks (+145) vs. Ketlen Vieira
I'm all-in on Eubanks after her upset of Julia Avila at UFC Fight Night on Sept. 12 in Las Vegas.
With Marion Reneau falling out of her matchup against Vieira, "Sarj" capitalized on the opportunity and is now set to make a two-week turnaround on Saturday's pay-per-view main card.
This feels like the kind of fight that could go either way, so the plus-money on Eubanks is worth a sprinkle.
Eubanks has drastically improved her overall game in the past year. Now riding a two-fight winning streak, she's a much different fighter than the person who lost to Bethe Correia and Aspen Ladd in 2019. Her wrestling game has become more dominant, and she's getting more comfortable on her feet.
Vieira is a skilled submission artist, but I suspect she'll struggle to find openings on the mat against a solid grappler. On the feet, this contest will be quite competitive, so I tend to believe Eubanks' path to victory is a bit stronger overall.
Additionally, Eubanks is riding a ton of momentum after beating top prospect Avila two weeks ago. The quick turnaround could cost her, but it could just as easily benefit her - look at what Khamzat Chimaev did in the span of 10 days, for instance. Eubanks knows that a win over Vieira would launch her into title contention in the women's bantamweight division, so there's no reason to think she won't be ready to go.
Adesanya destroys Costa to retain UFC middleweight belt
Israel Adesanya continued his path to becoming one of the greatest middleweights in UFC history Saturday night. Adesanya finished Paulo Costa via TKO at 3:59 of the second round in the UFC 253 main event at Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. "Like Roy Jones said, I say, 'Y'all must have forgot, y'all must have forgot,'" Adesanya said in his postfight interview. "Because of what happened last time (against Yoel Romero), you thought, 'Oh, he's so boring.' ... Trust me, I had to make y'all remember and I had to remind the world why we the best."This was only the second men's title fight featuring two undefeated fighters in UFC history.
Vieira hasn't stepped into the Octagon since December, when she suffered a first-round knockout loss to Irene Aldana at UFC 245. The Brazilian contender was riding a lot of momentum a couple of years ago and seemed to be a future challenger for Amanda Nunes, but a long layoff combined with that stunning defeat has quieted those thoughts.
Ultimately, this is a competitive fight on paper, but I see Eubanks as being on the upswing - and her opponent perhaps going the other way. She'll grind out Vieira for a decision.
Here are the full odds fromfor UFC 253 on Sept. 26:
- Israel Adesanya (-180) vs. Paulo Costa (+150)
- Dominick Reyes (-280) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+230)
- Kai Kara-France (-230) vs. Brandon Royval (+185)
- Ketlen Vieira (-175) vs. Sijara Eubanks (+145)
- Zubaira Tukhugov (-125) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (-105)
- Brad Riddell (-320) vs. Alex da Silva (+250)
- Jake Matthews (-700) vs. Diego Sanchez (+475)
- Shane Young (-130) vs. Ludovit Klein (+100)
- Aleksa Camur (-175) vs. William Knight (+145)
Early preliminary card
- Juan Espino (-300) vs. Jeff Hughes (+240)
- Khadis Ibragimov (-170) vs. Danilo Marques (+140)
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Fighters split on Adesanya's celebration: 'It's not good for the sport' .
A trio of active and retired UFC fighters disagree on whether Israel Adesanya crossed the line by humping Paulo Costa at UFC 253. Adesanya beat Costa via second-round TKO last weekend to retain his middleweight title. Immediately after the referee called off the fight, Adesanya performed a pelvic thrust on top of the challenger. Costa has since called the champion "human trash" for his actions. Lightweight Paul Felder, strawweight Angela Hill, and former welterweight Dan Hardy told reporters on Tuesday about what they thought of Adesanya's postfight celebration."Listen, would I do it? No," said Felder, who served as the event's color commentator.