UFC 253 Preview & Prediction: Adesanya vs Costa
By Cathal Geeney
Israel Adesanya defends his 185-pound strap against Paulo Costa on Saturday night as the UFC returns to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. This will only be the second time in the history of the UFC organization, where two undefeated male fighters meet for a title.
Costa is a powerhouse at middleweight. The title challenger relies on his strength and pressure to overwhelm his opponents. The Brazilian has a relatively short reach at 72 inches. While you may think that this would mean Costa has developed good footwork or intelligent set ups in order to land his shots, this is not necessarily the case. He will throw some feints but relies primarily on his ability to walk his opponent down.
Costa looks to his boxing as his primary offensive weapon. He might use his jab or just unleash his hooks straight off. His lead left hook to the body is a very effective shot to watch out for.
Fighting orthodox, the twenty-nine-year-old looks to fire off powerful body kicks with his right leg.
Adesanya is also primarily a striker, coming from a professional kickboxing background. However, in terms of striking styles, they differ greatly. The Nigerian born fighter is long and rangy and will enjoy an eight-inch reach advantage. He likes to constantly switch stances and use lots of feints and angles. The current Champ will set up combinations off his jab while mixing in a range of kicks.
The Last Stylebender won’t be afraid to stay fluid and navigate his way around the octagon, while relying on his head movement to avoid those big shots from Costa. Adesanya will look to constantly throw and move, avoiding getting caught up against the fence, with Costa unloading, at all costs.
With regards grappling, Adesanya has developed a defensive grappling game over the years whilst transitioning into MMA from Kickboxing.
Costa, meanwhile, has looked comfortable in exchanges in the past with high level grapplers such as Yoel Romero. So, Costa may have the edge in terms of wrestling but I am not expecting to see too much grappling on display here from either man.
The fact that both fighters are unbeaten adds an extra element of excitement to this encounter and with that, an element of uncertainty in trying to predict a winner.
However, based off their fighting styles, I expect Israel to defend his title successfully and come out with his hand raised.
Adesanya is a technically more skilled fighter and has demonstrated in past fights that he can be rocked and recover, as was the case against Kelvin Gastelum last year.
Having said that, I expect it to be a very tense fight and it will be a nervy night for any Israel Adesanya fans knowing that if he shows even the slightest complacency, Borrachinha can end the fight with one shot.
Pick: Israel Adesanya