What you need to know.
The Ultimate Fighting Championships are back on international soil, hosting the next event in Abu Dhabi. This card boasts two massive title bouts. The first being for the most recently vacated light heavyweight title and the other for the undisputed 185-pound champ of the world.
When: Saturday, September 27
Time: Prelims begin – 8:00 p.m.
Main Card – 10:00 p.m.
Venue: UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai
TV: catch the prelims on ESPN (US) or TSN (Canada) Main Card – Pay-per-view via ESPN+ (US) or Pay-per-view (Canada)
Israel Adesanya (-175) vs. Paulo Costa (+140) – Middleweight Championship bout
The Last Stylebender (19-0) will be returning to the octagon to face off against, what has been in the making for years now, his greatest competition of his UFC career. His opponent, the undefeated rampaging Brazilian, Paulo Costa (13-0), is coming off over a year layoff after defeating Yoel Romero in a spirited affair to set up what would have been the next title shot. However, post-fight, Costa required surgery which kept him out of competition. This is how Yoel got his title shot after suffering back-to-back L’s, which Adesanya quietly disposed of. Early in Israel’s career, he was not shy in calling out the over inflated balloon animal that is Paulo. The style matchup could not be any different between these two strikers. Expect a stand-up battle for all 5 rounds with a calculated Adesanya setting traps and timing, while his opponent will look to absolutely crush and beat down the current champ. The two were destined on this collision course at the top, with Yoel being the only shared opponent amongst the two. Look for Paulo to come out with some heat and aim for body shots to slow Stylebender down, while Izzy will be dancing around avoiding and aiming with precision.
With no fans, will this affect Israel’s game? He clearly uses the crowd and his emotion to fuel his fighting spirit. It will be an interesting fight to see the composure from him. A legend in the making. This will be the first time two undefeated fighters will compete for a title since Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida faced off back in 2009 at UFC 98.
The Corner’s Pick: Stylebender (Decision – unanimous +310)
Dominik Reyes (-300) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+230) – Light Heavyweight Championship bout
For the first time since 2011 there will be a new Light Heavyweight Champion that is not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier. The former of which, had recently vacated the belt in efforts to move up to face new challengers in the Heavyweight division – this will be for another time. Reyes’ (12-1) most recent fight was against the former champ which ended in a controversial unanimous decision for Jones, giving Reyes his first professional loss. Having an “L” on your record that was handed to you by Mr. Jones himself is nothing to shake a stick at, it is more of a badge of honour rather than a blemish. “The Devastator” has climbed the rankings in the light heavyweight division since his debut in 2017, facing the tough competition with wins over notables like Weidman, Oezdemir, and Cannonier. The complete threat, Reyes’ uses his boxing style mixed with his wrestling to wear on opponents to victory. His opponent? The heavy hitting “Polish Power” Jan Blachowicz (26-8), who carries an up and down career record stringing together a fantastic run winning 7 of his last 8 fights, dropping the only one to Thiago Santos. Jan is a counter fighter who puts all of his power into shots which catch his opponents off guard. He holds wins over the likes of Corey Anderson, Luke Rockhold, and Jared Cannonier. It’s not off the board, but Jan could pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Reyes is just too dominant and technically sound for the Polish resident.
The Corner’s Pick: Reyes (TKO – 3rd round)
UFC 253 is only days away, get your picks in today!