UFC championship strap. The headline fight, which pits the thrilling Israel Adesanya against the powerhouse Paulo Costa, is the one that everyone wants. Now, the man who pulled it all together has tipped it to be the best fight of 2020.
Speaking to MMA Junkie, Dana White proclaimed that “I predict [Adesanya vs Costa is] ‘Fight of the Year,’” with the two styles combining perfectly to create a spectacle. The UFC president predicts a war between the New Zealand-Nigerian and Brazilian.
Expectations have been piled onto the bout, and there’s good reason to believe the hype and have faith that White’s prediction will come to pass.
A historic fight regardless of the result
The UFC held its first fight on November 12, 1993, in an event called ‘The Beginning.’ Since then, only one male title fight has ever been between two undefeated athletes. UFC 98 on May 23, 2009, saw the 15-0 Lyoto Machida defeat the 13-0 Rashad Evans, per Tapology, in the light heavyweight title match.
Now, the 19-0 Adesanya will put his middleweight strap on the line against the 13-0 Costa to become only the second men’s title fight in UFC history to feature two undefeated contenders. It took 16 years for the first to come along, and it’s taken another 11 years for the second, proving how unique this event will be.
A clash of striking styles
Neither Costa nor Adesanya attempt takedowns in the UFC. They’re both great at defending attempted takedowns, but neither of them aims to take the match to the mat or try for a submission. The UFC 253 main event will see two strikers slug it out, which is something that always gets the crowd going.
The 6’4’’ Adesanya has an eight-inch reach advantage on his opponent and is known for using his lengthy limbs to fight from range while utilizing every space of the octagon. Costa, on the other hand, gets up close, throws tons of accurate strikes, and is happy to eat some up to do so. This is why the MMA odds at Space Casino are so close, with Costa the slight underdog at +125 to Adesanya’s -180 as the defending champion.
Adesanya’s ring management and fleet-footed style will allow him to skate around the edges and chip away at Costa. However, if Costa manages to apply some pressure, especially along the cage, he has the power, hand speed, and sublime combinations to rock any foe in the middleweight division. He’ll just need to time his attacks and not burnout on wasted efforts.
Years in the making
Dana White has been very strategic in creating this superstar clash. Adesanya and Costa have been lighting up the UFC for years, and have publicly wanted to scrap for almost as long. Over the years, they’ve taunted each other, attended each other’s fights, and have always been in the conversation of one another. As noted by ESPN, White wanted them both to reach their potential as UFC draws and athletes before he put them in the Octagon together.
Still undefeated and now widely considered to be two of the best three middleweights in the promotion, it’s time to bring the two together for an MMA extravaganza. The fact that they both boast a tremendous knack for scoring flashy knockouts only helps sell the fight further.
Perhaps best of all, if they both put on a good show, there’s a good chance that a multi-fight rivalry could be born from UFC 253. Costa’s only 29-years-old, and Adesanya’s only two years his senior, so there’s plenty of time left for them to continue to lock horns in the years to come.
Now, all that’s left to do is watch the fireworks go off at UFC 253.