The two best middleweights in the world lock horns in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 253 as Israel Adesanya defends the middleweight championship against No. 2 -anked Paulo Costa from Fight Island at the Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
The co-main event will feature a result that will have a light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier for the first time since 2011 when No. 1-ranked Dominick Reyes meets No. 3-ranked Jan Blachowicz for the vacant 205-pound championship.
Adesanya-Costa is the first UFC title fight featuring unbeaten fighters since Rashad Evans faced Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight title at UFC 98.
The Adesanya and Costa feud got hot after the former knocked out Robert Whittaker to become the undisputed champion at UFC 243. After the contest, Adesanya dared Costa, who was in the crowd, to come into the Octagon. Since then, the two have traded barbs back and forth, and now the score will be settled at UFC 253.
Adesanya last competed at UFC 248, defeating Yoel Romero by unanimous decision. The bout upset fans because Adesanya fought a more tactical contest than usual for “The Last Style Bender”. Adesanya vows things will be different Saturday.
“He’s (Costa) dumb, and he walks forward, and he throws shots,” Adesanya said to ESPN in August. “That’s what makes it really exciting, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to a big, inflated ignoramus running up on me, trying to throw shots as I keep moving and sticking him.”
Costa fought only once in 2019, but it was in an all-action affair, beating Romero by unanimous decision at UFC 241. After the confrontation with Adesanya at UFC 243, it was revealed that Costa had to have bicep surgery, which forced Adesanya to face Romero first.
Jones said in August that he would be leaving the division he’s ruled since beating “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 to win the light heavyweight strap and move up to heavyweight. When Jones made the announcement, the UFC quickly made Reyes and Blachowicz.
Reyes’ last performance came against Jones, giving him a run for his money in losing by a narrow split decision at UFC 247 that some felt should have gone the way of Reyes.
After losing to former 205-pound title challenger Thiago Santos in February 2019, Blachowicz has gone on a tear, winning three in a row with two of those victories coming via stoppage, including a first-round knockout of Corey Anderson in his most recent outing in February.
On paper, UFC 253 is a must-see event with what should be two exciting title fights.
Here is everything you need to know about UFC 253, including the time, odds, full fight card info, and how to watch Adesanya vs. Costa.
UFC 253 takes place Saturday night, Sept. 26. Early prelims get underway at 7 p.m. ET, followed by prelims at 8 p.m. ET and the main card pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET.
In the United States, the UFC Fight Pass prelims, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, will be simulcast on UFC Fight Pass, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ in English and Spanish. The prelims continue on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card pay-per-view, which will begin at 10 p.m. ET.
In Canada, the early prelims are on TSN and UFC Fight Pass, the prelims are on TSN and RDS, and the PPV main card is available on Bell, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Videotron, Telus, Eastlink, and UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass.
In the U.S., the UFC 253 main card is available via pay-per-view on ESPN+, which also requires a subscription. The PPV price for UFC 253 is $64.99 for current subscribers, while new subscribers can pay a bundle price of $84.98 for UFC 253 and an ESPN+ annual subscription, which is a savings of over 25 percent.
Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa will take place at Fight Island at the Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither Adesanya or Costa have fought in Abu Dhabi.
According to Bet MGM, Adesanya sits at a sizable favorite at -176, meaning you would have to bet $176 to win $100. The challenger comes in at +145 where it would take a bet of $100 to win $145.
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