UFC 253 features a meme-tier headliner between natty patriot Paulo Costa and anime weeb Israel Adesanya, and a co-main between Polish power and the longest torso in recorded human history.

UFC 253: Adensanya vs Costa Predictions & Results

Well boys, it is finally here. After months of build-up on twitter, with both sides flinging various memes and threats at each other, Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya finally showdown for Middleweight gold. Costa, now an adopted American, has seen his stock rise monumentally during the pre-fight antics. Baiting the ineffectiveness of USADA (the UFC’s PED’s testing net), crawling under Adesanya’s skin, and regularly posting across his social media accounts (including a fantastic Youtube account), Costa has established his name. Win or lose on Saturday night, people will want to watch Paulo Costa fight. The man is built like a Greek God, he opts to swang n bang, and has not had a boring fight in his UFC career to date.

Israel Adesanya, on the other hand, has had a torrid time of it since his knockout victory over former champion, and MMA world sweetheart, Robert Whittaker. Performing alongside Yoel Romero in one of the worst PPV main events of all-time, casuals were incensed at having forked out large sums to watch Adesanya and Romero shadow box. What did not help Adesanya’s cause, was his steadfast refusal to admit any part of wrongdoing in the lack of entertainment. Sure, Adesanya fought the correct fight and rightly won. But shifting the entire blame onto the shoulders of Romero, another fan favourite, soured many fans view of the stylish kickboxer. Costa’s unrelenting pressure on social media and a weigh-in scuffle during which Adesanya lost his cool, has opened cracks on Adesanya’s typically ice-cool persona.

The co-main event could be a snoozer or a banger, it is uncertain until the action actually begins. Jan Błachowicz is a hard hitter, but there is no denying that he has been involved in some sleep-inducing affairs. Dominick Reyes is fighting well above what was expected of the athlete turned fighter, and arguably should have clinched the belt against potential GOAT, Jon Jones. Both men have a habit of settling into a comfortable pace that requires pressure from an opponent to break them out of first gear. If neither man is willing to engage, we could yet witness a five-round stare-off. The extra incentive of this fight for the belt, however, should spark the fires in at least one of these Light Heavies.

Dominick Reyes puts Jon Jones behind him: 'In order to be the next great  champion, I've got to move on' - MMA Fighting
Jon Jones gets booped hard on the snout by the long limbs of Dominick Reyes, UFC 247, 9 February 2020.

Main Event

Middleweight (185)

UFC Middleweight Championship

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0)

Adesanya is in the top-five most aesthetic strikers across the entirety of the current MMA world. A clean counter-striking kickboxing style, Adesanya judges distance exceptionally and as such, always seem in place to land hard shots. While the more show-stopping techniques (i.e. question mark kicks) garner the plaudits, Adesanya’s real strength is in his basics. A regular jab that constantly sets range, tight footwork to create space for counter-shots, and a takedown defence which doesn’t get anywhere near the credit it deserves. Undoubtedly, Adesanya has power. But the real damage that Adesanya delivers, however, is served in the accuracy of his strikes. Throughout his entire UFC tenure, Adesanya has only fluffed on a handful of significant strikes. Paulo Costa isn’t the most defensively savvy fighter, and if Adesanya can out-work Costa in maintaining a safe mid-range, then it won’t be long before Adesanya’s fists will locate Costa’s chin.

The American patriot himself, Costa, is a pressure fighter who breaks down his opponent with hooks to the head and body. Ripping the body regularly, Costa shatters the will before he shatters the chin. Adesanya was put on wobbly feet by Kelvin Gastellum’s attacks which targetted both body and head, a fighter of similar reach and height to Costa but without the speed or power. If Romero had have pushed the action on the front foot, no doubt he would have had some form of success similar to Gastellum. Costa does not freeze. Whittaker’s successes when pushing on the front foot were trumped by his mistakes of lingering in the pocket, waiting for a return strike, for too long. Costa does not linger. Costa will push a sweltering pace and has a real chance of landing punishing blows if he can cut off the octagon effectively.

Perhaps the greatest factor in this fight beyond the third round is cardio. Adesanya has proven that he can fight deep into the championship rounds (claiming his interim belt with a spirited end performance against Gastellum). In contrast, Costa has only just recently entered into the third round during his fight with Romero, a fighter not known to set a relentless pace. Logic would suggest that a man with such a huge build, and a style that burns rather than conserves energy, would decline sharply in the fourth/fifth. But, MMA is a funny old sport. Costa may be able to secure an unforeseen takedown and can grind a couple of rounds out of the blue. Costa is a BJJ black-belt after all.

Predicted Result: Adesanya TKO Round 5

Perhaps most fans have been swept up in the media circus, but a lot of Adesanya’s skills have been overshadowed by the brash personality of Costa. An immaculate counter-striker with vast amounts of experience facing off with a limited powerhouse in Costa, the math strongly suggests Adesanya as the victor. The first two rounds will be the key, Costa’s power can negate any technical advantages.

Costa out-pummels Romero in battle between fighters who looked like Greek  Gods - Business Insider
Two very natural human beings duke it out in a three-round war during which both men hit the canvas, UFC 241, 18 August 2019.

Result: Adesanya def. Costa // TKO (punches) Round 2 3:59

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

Co-Main Event

Light Heavyweight (205)

vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Błachowicz (26-8)

Reyes should currently be the Light Heavyweight champion of the division, but this sport is a cruel mistress at times. A career performance against Jon Jones saw Reyes apply pressure from the opening bell, using his ridiculously long frame to swarm the eye line of Jones and blitz him with a scary volume of strikes. Body kicks were a vicious tool of Reyes’ success and bogged Jones down into a slow and gritty performance. Reyes’ title bid also proved that he could fight on the front foot, having built his career off counter-striking from his tricky southpaw stance. In a division severely lacking in technical skill, Reyes bridges the gap between athleticism/durability and technical striking.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been particularly hot on Błachowicz. Missing his firework fights, it seems Błachowicz prefers to torture me when I tune in to watch him fight. I appreciate a solid jab, and I like a reckless blitzing flurry once in a while, but a whole style devoted to this? Head-first charges which are based on regular 1-2s, and the occasional left hook snook in, Błachowicz is a tough man but his skill set should not be near the championship of any division. This is Light Heavyweight, however, and it is a barren wasteland, especially now Jon Jones has left.

Reyes is primed to catch Błachowicz on the counter of one of Błachowicz’s patented front-foot charges. Faster hands, sharper footwork, and a kicking game that blurs body and head strikes, Reyes should have enough in the tank to dominate this fight.

Predicted Result: Reyes Decision

At thirty-seven, and having fought a long career, Błachowicz’s chin could be called into question. Reyes is a powerful striker and has finished many durable opponents in the first round. Błachowicz, however, is difficult to gauge early in contests and Reyes will be unwilling to engage in a slugfest which will only benefit the harder punching Błachowicz.

Jan Blachowicz Destroys Corey Anderson With 1st-Round KO (VIDEO) To Win  $50K Bonus At UFC Fight Night 167
Jan Błachowicz ends the UFC career of Corey Anderson, showing there is in fact levels to this game. UFC Fight Night 167, 16 February 2020.

Result: Błachowicz def. Reyes // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:36

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Flyweight (125)

Kai Kara-France (21-8) vs Brandon Royval (11-4)

A stylistically entertaining match-up, Kai Kara-France’s volume kickboxing faces off against the all-out grappling of Brandon Royval. Kara-France has a very strong build for the Flyweight division, and Royval will struggle to get Kara-France to the mat using brute force. It would take a lapse of judgement, or overconfidence on Kara-France’s behalf. If the fight hits the mat, Royval is a terrifying submission artist and made Tim Elliot look a fool during their scrambles.

More likely, Kai Kara-France pieces up Royval on the feet. The kickboxer has no real need to take the fight anywhere else. Initially, solely counter-punching, Kara-France looked a different fighter against the very solid, Tyson Nam. Willing to push the action to create opportunities, Kara-France juked in and out regularly with his footwork to break the defensive shell of Nam and utilised his speed advantage to strike in the pocket before exiting unharmed. Royval is vastly weaker on the feet than Nam, and his swarming style will only play into the hands of Kara-France.

Predicted Result: Kara-France Decision

A division that is crying out for someone to create a name for themselves, Kara-France may be able to secure an impressive stoppage victory if he throws a bit of caution to the wind.

Result: Royval def. Kara-France // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 2 0:48

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Ketlen Vierira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4)

Wonderful, another Eubanks match. Struggling to make weight on the scales, it is somewhat excused by her quick turnaround after a decision victory over Julia Avila just a fortnight ago. Showing no real improvements to her overall game, Eubanks fell back on her durability and dogged grappling which allows her to control opponents from a top position.

Vierira has had a torrid year with injuries, and her last fight saw her iced on the feet by Mexican boxer, Irene Aldana. Despite this, Vierira holds a ton of power and the gas tank to push the action on the feet and mat for the full three rounds. Technically far superior, Vierira is the better fighter, it is just a question of whether she has mentally and physically recovered from her injuries.

Predicted Result: Vierira Decision

Longing for the day that Eubanks is no longer considered a viable fighter for a PPV main card slot.

Result: Vierira def. Eubanks // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1)

Dawodu is a calculated Muay Thai fighter who is willing to eat one while he waits for the prime moment to counter. Happy to go to the body regularly, Dawodu out-strikes opponents based on significant strikes rather than volume. Dawodu is very open for the takedown, and once on his back, really struggles to get off the mat.

Tukhugov is a spinning fighter who burns himself out very early in contests searching for the finish. A very talented striker, Tukhugov, pours pressure on the feet early and mixes his punches up with spinning backfists and explosive kicks. Tukhugov is a solid grappler with a background in combat sambo, and if willing, Tukhugov could cruise to a victory on the mat if he can secure the takedown. Is that the Tukhugov way, though?

Predicted Result: Tukhugov TKO Round 1

Anything outside of the first round, surely Dawodu is the favourite, as Tukhugov very clearly falls off a steep cliff in terms of conditioning. Five minutes is a long time to endure the hectic punishment that Tukhugov delivers in the first round, however.

Result: Dawodu def. Tukhugov // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Preliminary Card

Lightweight (155)

Brad Riddell (8-1) vs Alex da Silva (21-2)

Brad Riddell is gonna earn himself some fans on Saturday night. A delicious striker, Riddell goes to the body early and doesn’t let up the pressure. Right uppercut, left hook to the head, left hook to the body, is a typical and very aesthetic combination of Riddell’s. With a Muay Thai background (a more commonly seen theme in today’s MMA), Riddell is fun as heck.

Alex da Silva is a promotional journeyman, plying his trade across a variety of regional promotions. Surprising Rodrigo Vargas with a decision victory in the UFC, da Silva has the skillset to spring a surprise. But the larger man does not have the technical aptitude to secure the takedown, and as such, will be pieced up on the feet.

Predicted Result: Riddell Decision

Fun, fun, fun. Riddell hype train to leave the station after this fight, hopefully.

Result: Riddell def. da Silva // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Welterweight (170)

Diego Sanchez (30-12) vs Jake Matthews (16-4)

Why is this man still fighting? Why did Conor McGregor expose his personal messages with Dana White, and effectively call-out Sanchez? Who benefits from watching the 2020 version of Diego Sanchez fight? Guided to a decision loss against Michael Chiesa, Sanchez looked ABYSMAL against Michel Pereira before milking an illegal knee to secure a victory. Sanchez strolled about the octagon with very odd, and concerning antics. Broken footwork, unwilling to engage, strikes which looked as though they were thrown through water, Sanchez looked dreadful.

Jake Matthews isn’t a massive threat to the already CTE-induced shadow of Sanchez. A decision machine, Matthews high-point was probably a decision victory over Jingliang Li during which Matthews braved his way through a vile eye gouge by Li. A solid grappler, Matthews is a stronger, younger fighter who excels in the areas that Sanchez used to.

Predicted Result: Matthews Decision

This will be probably be the sad affair that the UFC has been lingering on to give to Sanchez.

Result: Matthews def. Sanchez // Decision (unanimous – 30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Shane Young (13-4) vs Ľudovít Klein (16-2)

A fun little pocket rocket, Young’s only UFC loss was against the current Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski. Setting a huge pace early, Young looks to jab his opponent’s head off before landing lengthy combinations.

Klein is making his UFC debut after a career fighting largely for regional promotion, Oktagon. A powerful striker, Klein has wiped out most of the regional fighters who were willing to engage in a slug-fest. Never really tested against a UFC-calibre fighter, Klein may be in trouble against the pressure and wrestling ability of Young.

Predicted Result: Young Decision

Young’s wrestling will probably break down Klein’s gas tank and force him to make mistakes on the feet.

Result: Klein def. Young // KO (head kick) Round 1 1:16

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Light Heavyweight (205)

William Knight (8-1) vs Aleksa Camur (6-0)

William Knight takes one to give one. A dangerous gameplan against the bigger boys of Light Heavyweight, Knight will struggle the further he progresses into his UFC career.

Aleksa Camur is a youthful fighter who has shown a lovely striking variety that mixes spinning elements with more powerful flying knees and straight shots. Camur is young, however, and could waste his gas tank trying to finish Knight early, who has exceptional recovery.

Predicted Result: Camur TKO Round 1

Knight could well pull off another turnaround victory, but Camur is the more talented fighter and should establish his name in the organisation.

Result: Knight def. Camur // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Heavyweight (265)

Jeff Hughes (10-3) vs Juan Espino (9-1)

Naaaaah, this ain’t the fight. Jeff Hughes absorbs damage as his main form of offence, wearing opponent’s out so he can land his strangely feather fisted strikes. Juan Espino has had a couple years out with injuries, and at thirty-nine, will have to secure a takedown on Jeff Hughes early if he wants his gas tank to hold up.

Predicted Result: Espino Submission Round 1

Hughes is a very tough fighter, with a decent takedown defence. Espino is far superior on the mat, but he will struggle to take his man down. If he can regularly get Hughes down, Espino will cruise to victory.

Result: Espino def. Hughes // Submission (scarf hold choke) Round 1 3:48

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Light Heavyweight (205)

Khadis Ibragimov (8-3) vs Danilo Marques (9-2)

Lol, Ibragimov is back again. The first-round all-out action fighter is back to sleep or get slept. Lets all root for Ibragimov, after a torrid 0-3 UFC career, but a willingness to always engage with firepower. Marques is a regional fighter who has struggled against anyone with a winning record. Prone to beign stopped in the first-round, surely this is a UFC tailor made match up for Ibragimov?

Predicted Result: Ibragimov TKO Round 1

I can’t believe I’m picking Ibragimov to win but hey ho.

Result: Marquez def. Ibragimov // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa

Winner: 5/11

Method: 5/11

Round: 4/11

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 113/186

Method: 88/186

Round: 77/186

Takeaway comments: Brad Riddell and the third round, a match made in heaven.

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