Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa: Who wins UFC 253 main event – fight preview and result predictions

UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa

Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and title contender Paulo Costa square off in the main event of UFC 253 live on pay-per-view on Sunday, September 27. MMA event takes place at Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi aka “Fight Island. We are less than 24 hours away from the fight, so let’s have a look how the things are and who has a bigger chance, or perhaps, more experience and skills to come out victorious.


Both fighters will enter the Octagon undefeated in their professional MMA careers. Adesanya won all of his 19 bouts, while Costa scored 13 wins. One is likely to drop, unless something like an accident happens, which could result in “No Contest”. Draw is unlikely in a title fight, right? In any of last two scenarios the champion generally keeps the belt.

A Taste of Defeat

Those, who haven’t followed Israel Adesanya – prior to his switch to MMA, which saw a quick run to claim the title, he fought in kickboxing and Muay Thai. In his last two appearances inside the squared circle back in 2017 he was defeated, moreover got KO’d in the final fight by Alex Pereira in their rematch.

Paulo Costa dropped a split decision against Marcio Alexandre Jr. in 2014 in an exhibition matchup at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3. After the winner was announced, he got back to his corner and laid on the canvas due to exhaustion.

Not everyone is able to recover from a heavy knockout and fight again. Not everyone is able to put themselves together, physically and mentality, and ultimately restart the whole thing.

One can say (I would actually do too) it is better to never learn what it is to get knocked out.


However, the thing is – earlier we experience something – earlier we learn from it. As a result we get prepared for the next time, making sure the fiasco does not happen again.

Mental Pressure

Not knowing either of the fighters personally – I’d presume that going into this fight, Israel Adesanya, probably, gets a bit more pressure on him, other than Paulo Costa. The latter has nothing to really prove, other than his own words and claim the title.

The champion got criticized for his last fight this past March against Yoel Romero, that did not produce fireworks. However, when facing someone of that complexion and style of fighting, he did enough to win the fight by unanimous decision and keep his belt. More on “Fighting Style” below.

The challenger hasn’t fought since August 2019, when he also defeated Romero by unanimous decision. However the fight was full of action with both going forward swinging.

So the pressure might be coming from something like “Hey, your fight was boring, you did pretty much nothing, but I brawled with him no problem”. So, you kind of want to prove wrong, especially to those who are saying something like this.

However the above also goes both ways. While Adesanya may have slightly lost his cool at the weigh-ins faceoffs (check out video here), Costa seems to be way too confident, which is in fact pretty much always a mistake.

In addition, those, who talk a lot before the fight or make more noise than its needed, generally get quiet when the bell rings. When it’s all over it’s all smiles and friendships, of course.

We all saw Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor or Georges St-Pierre vs Michael Bisping, right? Well McGregor didn’t really get quiet.

Almost forgot, Colby Covington when he got TKO’d by Kamaru Usman. The list probably goes on, since that’s just how the things are these days, when it comes to “talk” and “it’s all business”.

Fighting Styles

The fighting styles of Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa are completely different. This is likely one of those things why UFC President Dana White expects the bout to become “Fight of the Year”.

An interesting thing would be that judging by his Top Finishes released by UFC, Costa hasn’t really fought anyone of a similar style to Adesanya. The latter on the other hand, fought the likes of Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker (to name a couple), who are quire similar.

One can say that fighting an opponent who is shorter than you should be easier, right? However, quite often those guys are stocky, move forward throwing bombs. This is manageable, but pretty annoying.

From experience, it gets annoying not even that they pretty much always put pressure and hit hard (everyone hits hard), but that it does not really let you exercise your versatile skills, other than brawl back or sort of “run” and strike back a la Floyd Mayweather. The fight quite often can become something like a “street fight”. But some fight fans enjoy it and want exactly this [brawl], right?

One of the solutions, is “targeted striking”. You cover up, defend and hit directly in that spot where you want to land, instead of just swinging for the sake of it. The desired result is to hurt and cause injury (we are talking fighting) eg cut face, broken limb, something like this.

As an example Adesanya’s fight versus Anderson Silva was a contest of skills and techniques. The fight between Costa and Romeo – was a brawler against a brawler.

The fight between Adesanya and Romero was arguably meant to be what is expected from an upcoming Adesanya vs Costa, if this makes sense? So, let’s see what happens.

Adesanya vs Costa: Who wins the fight?

While knockout is always possible, Costa has a very little chance to compete in standup striking exchange with Adesanya from the long distance. The latter will simply pick him apart, outpoint.

Costa is expected to move forward and look for a knockout. Adesanya is likely to bite on his mouthpiece and do what he did in his fight with Gastelum.

Can not really say much what happens if the fight gets on the ground. Costa perhaps has advantage?

If the fight goes the distance Adesanya wins by unanimous decision, perhaps a narrow UD. If a knockout happens – it would be Costa with punches, while still fresh in Round 1 or 2, or Adesanya in any round, if he connects an uppercut elbow or left switch kick to the head, for example, while his opponent moves forward throwing overhands.

UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa start time throughout Australia and how to watch the fight live can be found here. International schedule for the US, UK and New Zealand is available here.


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