Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:49 AM

UFC 253 Adesanya vs. Costa Picks and Predictions

UFC 253 Video Bets


The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to ‘Fight Island’ Saturday for an 11-fight card. Somebody’s ‘O’ has to go in the main event when unbeaten middleweight champion Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) takes on undefeated Paulo Costa.

UFC 253 Odds | UFC 253 Expert Picks

  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020
  • Venue: Flash Forum
  • Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Expected Fights: 11
  • Championship Bouts: 2
  • TV/Time: ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN PPV 6:00 p.m. ET

UFC 253
Main Card Picks

Middleweight Championship
Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa

As of Friday afternoon, most books had Adesanya installed as a –185 favorite with Costa at +160 on the comeback. The total was 2.5 rounds (‘over’ -150, ‘under’ +130).

Adesanya entered the Octagon for the first time at UFC 221 on Feb. 11 of 2018, beating Rob Wilkinson by second-round knockout to earn a Performance of the Night bonus. The 31-year-old kickboxer would rip off four more wins in less than a year, including a unanimous-decision victory over former middleweight kingpin Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva at UFC 234 on Feb. 10 of 2019.

With then-champion Robert Whittaker sidelined with an injury, the win over Silva earned Adesanya a shot at Kelvin Gastelum for the interim 185-pound strap. In what most MMA publications and websites dubbed the 2019 Fight of the Year, Adesanya won an epic battle over Gastelum by UD (48-46, 48-46, 48-46) in the UFC 236 co-main event.

The scores were clearly even going into the fifth and final stanza, and that’s when Adesanya turned up his volume and nearly finished Gastelum with a wild flurry of punishment in the final minute. This is really the only fight in which we’ve seen Adesanya hurt and be forced to dig deep, recover and find a way to get his hand raised.

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Adesanya’s fifth-round efforts earned him a 10-8 score from all three judges. Whittaker finally faced Adesanya at UFC 243 last October. The New Zealander defeated the Aussie via second-round KO.

In Adesanya’s first title defense, he won a lackluster UD over Yoel Romero in one of the more boring title fights (not involving Tyron Woodley, that is) in recent memory. Adesanya has 14 of his 19 career wins by KO, and he’ll be looking for No. 15 against the Brazilian.

Costa’s rivalry with Adesanya has been brewing for a couple of years. Immediately after disposing of Whittaker, Adesanya started pointing and cussing at Costa, who was sitting cage side and was delighted to return the verbal banter.

The 29-year-old Costa (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is fighting for the first time in more than 13 months and only the second time since July of 2018. Various injuries and an issue with USADA have minimized his activity level.

Costa is off a UD win over Romero at UFC 241. It was the first time one of Costa’s fights made it to the third round. He has finished all four of his other Octagon opponents by KO, including Garreth McLellan, Louwale Bamgbose, Johny Hendricks and Uriah Hall.

Eleven of Costa’s 13 career wins have come via KO. He has one win by submission and the decision triumph over Romero.

UFC 253 Predictions
Adesanya vs. Costa

I believe this is a toss-up scrap. I’m going to leave the side alone and place one unit on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for a +130 payout.

Light Heavyweight
Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz

In the co-main event, Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will collide for the light heavyweight championship that was recently vacated by Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who is moving up to the heavyweight loop. As of Friday afternoon, most books had Reyes (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) installed as a –280 favorite, leaving Blachowicz as a +230 underdog.

Reyes is off the first loss of his career to Jones, who was given a UD win (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) by the judges at UFC 247 in Houston back in February. However, 14 media members had the bout scored 48-47 for Reyes, while only seven scored it for Jones (48-47).

Whatever the case, Reyes has a second chance to win UFC gold in this spot. The 30-year-old southpaw who played college football at Stony Brook has seven wins by KO, two via submission and three by decision. Some of his victims include former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, Ovince Saint Preux and Jared Cannonier.

Blachowicz (26-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC), the 37-year-old from Poland, has surged into contention with three consecutive wins, including KO victories over former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold and Corey ‘Overtime’ Anderson. He also captured a split-decision triumph over Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza last November.

Blachowicz has compiled a 7-1 record in his last eight Octagon appearances dating back to October of 2017. His only loss in that stretch was to Thiago Santos by third-round KO. Blachowicz owns other notable career scalps over Nikita Krylov, Jimi Manuwa, Cannonier, Devin Clark, Ilir Latifi and Houston Alexander.

Blachowicz has nine wins by submission, 10 via decision and seven by KO. He’s only been finished three times, twice by KO and once via submission. This is the fourth fight of his career that’s been scheduled for five rounds.

UFC 253 Predictions
Reyes vs. Blachowicz

I like Reyes here, but he’s too expensive on the straight price for my taste. I’m certainly okay with using him in any parlay you might have working. Both men have KO power, so let’s go with two units on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for a +120 return. Also, give me two units on Reyes to win inside the distance at a –105 price.

UFC 253
Bonus Picks

-- In the card’s curtain jerker, give me one unit on Danilo Marques as a +140 underdog vs. Khadis Ibragimov, who is winless in three UFC fights. Also, let’s put one-half unit on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds at a – 135 price for this 205-pound scrap.

-- In a heavyweight showdown, I’ll risk one unit on ‘under’ 1.5 rounds for a +140 return in the fight between Jeff ‘Lights Out’ Hughes and Juan ‘El Gaucho’ Espino, who has seen eight of his 11 career fights end in Round 1.


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