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UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa - Sep 26 🏝 🇦🇪 🏖


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Saturday 26th September. Back on Fight Island. Back on PPV. It’s Grace Jones vs Ricky Martin, motherfuckers. 

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PPV MAIN CARD
Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa - Middleweight Title

Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz - Vacant Light Heavyweight Title

Kai Kara-France vs Brandon Royval

Ketlen Vieira vs Sijara Eubanks 

Hakeem Dawodu vs Zubaira Tukhugov 

ESPN+ PRELIMS
Brad Riddell vs Alex Da Silva 

Diego Sanchez vs Jake Matthews 

Shane Young vs Ludovit Klein

Aleksa Camur vs William Knight 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Jeff Hughes vs Juan Espino 

Khadis Ibragimov vs Danilo Marques 

 

I’ll go ahead and say right now, this almost certainly isn’t the final card. Obviously there’s going to be a few more fights added to the undercard yet and no doubt there’ll be the usual inevitable pullouts and COVID will be coming in and picking fighters off. We’ll roll with this for now though because we should probably get the discussion going on those two title fights right about now. 

 

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Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa. This one’s been bubbling up for a little bit. Seemed to take ages for the fight to actually get confirmed but here we are. It’s on. Two undefeated fighters, two totally different styles.

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Israel Adesanya is 19-0 with 14 knockouts. 75-5 in Kickboxing. The UFC Middleweight champion of the world. Breezed through Derek Brunson. Beat his idol Anderson Silva. Beat Kelvin Gastelum in the 2019 Fight Of The Year. Knocked out Robert Whittaker to unify the title. He’s on top of the MMA world right now. Yeah, in his last fight him and Yoel Romero stunk the place out. What of it? There’s always the risk of that with Yoel. Adesanya for me has been one of the best things to happen to MMA over the last couple of years. He’s a showman at a time when pretty much everyone else is vanilla and he’s great to watch in the cage. Fuck the Yoel snoozer. Sometimes, two rights can make a wrong. Izzy is class. Some of his trash talk is a bit wank but in general, he’s really added to my enjoyment of MMA more than most in recent times.

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Paulo Costa is 13-0 with 12 finishes. 9 in the first round. He’s battered the likes of Uriah Hall and Johny Hendricks in the UFC. The only man to take him to the scorecards...Yoel Romero. Yep. Him again.

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They had an awesomely chaotic battle back in August 2019 at UFC 241. Costa got the nod from the judges in a close one and this Adesanya fight was supposed to be next. Adesanya even called out the “Ricky Martin wannabe” after he beat Whittaker. But it wasn’t to be. Costa was injured and that’s why Yoel got the shot instead. So here we are. The fight that was originally supposed to happen is finally on. And they haven’t stopped talking shite on each other the whole time. Costa has been posting all sorts of odd stuff on social media. Stuff like this;

Then Adesanya rocked up with pink hair just because he can. I’m assuming as a message to Costa that trying to make him seem less of a man doesn’t effect him. When this photo popped up online, you could almost taste the homophobia from MMA fans.

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So yeah. It’s been a bit...different to most fight buildups. Costa couldn’t resist having a pop at the pink hair; 

“His best skill is running away - avoid the fight. He’s very good at that. Very good when he wants to do that. The only thing more disturbing than his hair was his fight against Romero.” - Paulo Costa

Of course, Adesanya had his own criticisms of Costa;

“He’s dumb. He’s dumb and he walks forward and he throws shots. That’s what makes it really exciting and that’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to this big, inflated ignoramus, running up on me, trying to throw shots as I keep moving and sticking him.” - Israel Adesanya

I can’t see past Adesanya schooling him, to be honest. Outside of the old ‘punchers chance’ I don’t see how Costa wins this. He’s never been 5 rounds either, which is always an obvious concern with a musclebound power puncher. But Costa is always dangerous early and Adesanya is more hittable than you’d expect given his striking experience. You never know. I think Adesanya should outclass him really. Should be a lively one however it goes though.

 

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OK then. Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz. It’s the dawn of a new era for Light Heavyweight. And I’m kind of indifferent to it. To be fair, it was always going to feel weird. Jon Jones has had a stranglehold on the 205 division for a good decade now. Him dropping this on us last week immediately changed the whole 205 landscape. 

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It shouldn’t have been a massive shock. He’d been at odds with the UFC for a while and the negotiations for his long talked about move up to Heavyweight hit a brick wall. Jones is basically saying ‘call me when you’re ready to pay me more’. Last thing I saw him tweet on the matter sounded more positive but Dana’s still saying it’s Miocic vs Ngannou 2 first. I think Jones will inevitably be back. And I do think it’ll be at Heavyweight. He seems genuinely excited about moving up and he’s come across as kind of disinterested with what’s been available to him at 205 for a while now. My hunch is, when the crowds come back, so will Jonny Bones.

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Love him or hate him, he’s left quite a void. Big old shoes to fill. But while everyone’s down on 205 these days, I don’t think it’s as bad as people make out. Sure it’s lacking star power now. Jones is off to HW, Cormier’s retired, Gustafsson - fuck knows. There’s definitely going to be a period of transition. But while there aren’t the big names there at the moment, I do like the possible matchups you can make out of the current crop. Reyes and Blachowicz will determine a new champ. Then underneath them you’ve got Santos, Teixeira, Smith, Rakic, Ankalaev, Cutelaba, Prochazka, Walker, Oezdemir, Spann, OSP, Menifield, Gamzatov, Shogun, Craig. It’s a fun mix of older names and new blood, different styles etc. Not to mention Rumble Johnson’s return is supposedly imminent. It’s far from the strongest division on the roster, granted, but enough with the doom and gloom. Unless you’re only interested in fights that pop the buy rates, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with this lot.

Anyway, Dom vs Jan. It’s a pretty good fight on paper. In a post-Jones 205 world, in crowning a new champ, Reyes had to be one half of it. After all he was the last man to challenge Jones for the gold back in February. And not only did he go the distance and do well, many felt he should’ve got the decision that night.

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I think I had Reyes winning by a round myself but it really could’ve gone either way. Ideally, it’d have been Reyes vs Thiago Santos for the vacant strap here, seeing as they were Jones’ last 2 challengers and both took him right to the wire in razor close fights. But Santos was already booked against Glover Teixeira when Jones sent his adios tweet.

I’m not going to pretend I’m counting the minutes to this fight or anything. I’ve been stung where Blachowicz is concerned before. That Jacare fight last year was abysmal. But on the whole he’s been good to watch. I remember one of the Jimi Manuwa fights being a corker and he did KO Corey Anderson. Not to mention doing this to Rockhold...

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He’s alright in my book.

It’s crazy to think but this will be the first time since 2011 that the Light Heavyweight belt will be held by someone other than Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier. Strange times ahead.

 

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Kai Kara-France vs Brandon Royval doesn’t really scream PPV main card but it’s actually a very solid fight. Kara-France has been a bit of a slow burner so far in the UFC. Hasn’t knocked anyone’s socks off but he’s looked good so far. He’s 27 years old with a 21-8-1 record and has won 9 of his last 10 fights. Comes into this one off a points win over Tyson Nam in a cracking fight in February. Probably the best he’s looked in the UFC yet. Royval is 28 with a record of 11-4, 10 finishes. Only seen bits and pieces but he’s a handful on the ground and looked great in his Octagon debut back in May, submitting Tim Elliott. So yeah, I’m expecting an action packed fight here.

 

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Ketlen Vieira vs Sijara Eubanks. This was supposed to be Vieira vs Marion Reneau but Reneau just dropped out. I’m only really arsed because of Vieira. Still think she could be a real prospect. Women’s MMA doesn’t have a lot of them and at Bantamweight, I’d say the two real standouts to come along over the last couple of years have been Vieira and Aspen Ladd. And knee injuries have derailed both of their progress. In 2018, Vieira was 10-0 with black-belts in BJJ and Judo and had just beat Cat Zingano and Sara McMann. Her UFC career was just gaining momentum when she was hit by a knee injury that took her out for nearly 2 years. She finally returned in December...and got swiftly KO’d by Irene Aldana. She’s still only 28 and it was her first defeat, she’s got time to bounce back. And the division needs her to. But it’s been a rough ride for her the last couple of years. Eubanks literally just fought on Sep 12th, beating Julia Avila on points. I’ve made no secret I’ve never really rated Eubanks but I’ll give her her due. She’s jumped in against Avila on short notice, now she’s stepping in against Vieira on about 2 weeks notice. These are tough opponents she’s jumping in with. If she beats Vieira here I’ll have to eat a bit of humble pie where Sarge is concerned. But if Vieira is going to live up to her potential, she needs to be winning these kind of fights.

 

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Hakeem Dawodu vs Zubaira Tukhugov should be a lively way to open the main card. I’ve really enjoyed watching Dawodu so far. Wicked striker and he’s on a nice little 4 fight streak at the moment. He’s 11-1-1 overall and beat Julio Arce in his last fight at the MSG show in November. 9-0 Kickboxing record as well. And he’s nicknamed ‘Mean’ Hakeem for a reason. Just look at him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look happy. All business, all the time. He’d rather crack a jaw than crack a smile. I like him, just need to see more of him. Tukhugov is 19-4-1 and coming off a first round TKO over Kevin Aguilar in February. Vaguely recall thinking he’s pretty good but nothing specific sticks out in the memory about him or his fights. Actually, the only thing I really remember him for is when he hopped the fence after Khabib vs McGregor and sucker punched McGregor. Good lad.

 

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Brad Riddell vs Alex Da Silva should be worth a look. 28 year old Kiwi ‘Quake’ Riddell came into the UFC with a bit of hype on him last year as I recall. Not sure how far he can go but he made a hell of a first impression on me in his debut. He fought Jamie Mullarkey on the Adesanya vs Whittaker undercard in October and they had a right wild scrap. One of the best yet least talked about fights of 2019 for me. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. He got the win on points and went on to beat tough Russian Magomed Mustafaev by decision in his next fight in February. He’s 8-1 with 5 knockouts now. Teammate of Adesanya and Dan Hooker at City Kickboxing. Exciting to watch. Keep an eye on him. Might never burst through the contender bubble but I’ve got a feeling he’ll be worth keeping tabs on anyway if that Mullarkey barnburner is anything to go on. Da Silva is 24 years old, 21-2 record with 20 finishes. Hasn’t beat anyone of real note yet but judging by his finish ratio, he’s not shy about going for the kill. Which could make for a real fire fight with Riddell here. Don’t be shocked if these two steal the show.

 

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Diego Sanchez vs Jake Matthews. Could be good, could be sad. At this point, you don’t know what you’re getting with Diego. I don’t think he’s completely shot in the BJ Penn sense, but he’s probably not far off. He’s had a funny old year or so. Dominated and completely old manned Mickey Gall at UFC 235 last March, then lost clearly to Michael Chiesa in the July, then he had that weird as fuck fight with Michel Pereira in February this year, which he won by DQ due to the illegal knees, but no-one came out of that one looking good. It promised so much on paper but on the night it was like both of their weirdness cancelled each other out. Diego’s a legend, bless the oddball, but I hope he doesn’t carry on much longer. Matthews could be catching him at an ideal time as well. He’s not without flaws himself but he’s a decent fighter, fairly fresh at 26 and he’s coming off a nice win over Emil Meek. Part of me always wants to see Diego win. But a win will just encourage him to keep fighting and there’s no happy ending coming in that scenario. Then again, losses don’t seem to put him off fighting either so it really doesn’t make much difference. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

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Shane Young vs Ludovit Klein. Well disappointed about this. Was meant to be Young vs the nutcase known as Nate Landwehr but Landwehr is out now. And my interest in this fight has gone with him. Young’s a New Zealander out of the City Kickboxing camp. 13-4 and went to a decision with Alexander Volkanovski in 2017, early in Volk’s UFC run. Can’t really remember Young. He’s been quite inactive. Won his last 2 but they were spread out and he’s been out of action about 18 months now. Not ideal. Never heard of Klein. A quick google tells me he’s Slovakian, 25 years old and has a record of 16-2 with 15 finishes. Doesn’t sound a bad substitute actually. But I was looking forward to seeing Landwehr back in action.

 

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Aleksa Camur vs William Knight should be worth giving a look. At a time when we’re all speculating about what the future holds for a Jon Jonesless Light Heavyweight division, these are the type of fights we should be keeping tabs on. Camur is just 24 years old, Ohio born but of Serbian descent and he’s undefeated at 6-0 with 5 knockouts. He got noticed on Dana’s Contender Series with this highlight reel flying knee...

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Then in January he made his UFC debut and outpointed Justin Ledet. Seems a good dude. Oh and he’s a teammate of Stipe Miocic. Only thing I don’t like about him is he looks like Frank Mir circa about 2002. Knight is 32 years old, 8-1 with 8 knockouts. He’s also a product of Dana’s Contender Series. Never seen him fight, I’ve still not got around to starting to follow DWCS, but he looks like he’s made out of bricks and he’s obviously dangerous judging by his KO ratio. You never know 100% how fights are going to play out but if ever a fight between two relative unknowns sounded like a must see bombfest, it’s this one. 

 

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Jeff Hughes vs Juan Espino. Not fussed really. It’s a bit of a nothing fight at Heavyweight. Hughes is a very weathered looking 32 years old with a record of 10-3-0-1. Just a fat plodder from what I recall of him. He’s looked pretty shit every time I’ve seen him. His nickname is ‘Lights Out’ but I don’t know if that’s a reference to his KO power or the fact that he bores you to sleep. Either way it’s a slap in the face to James Toney and Chris Lytle, who previously carried that moniker. Espino is a bit of an odd case. He’s 9-1 with 7 finishes and actually won TUF back in 2018. Bet you didn’t remember that and neither did I. He’s been out 22 months since then with injuries and, at 39 years old, he really needs to get a move on if he wants to make anything of his MMA career. I guess I’m kind of intrigued to see how Espino looks here but a fat nobody vs a rusty 39 year old? It doesn’t sound like a recipe for anything good.

 

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Khadis Ibragimov vs Danilo Marques is...nothing. Ibragimov is a 25 year old Russian who came into the UFC unbeaten at 8-0. But he’s gone 0-3 and looked pretty cack in the Octagon. He’s been finished in 2/3 of those fights and got put away inside a round by Roman Dolidze in his last fight. The knock on a lot of these Russian fighters when they come in with undefeated records is usually ‘yeah but they’ve beat nobodies in Russia’. A lot of times that turns out to be bollocks and they do just fine in the US. But in Ibragimov’s case, the criticism would appear to be spot on so far. Prove us wrong, Khadis. Don’t know this Marques chap. He’s 34, 9-2 with 8 finishes and trains with Maia, Werdum and Shogun. Suddenly I’m a fan. 


Not the most stacked PPV we’ve ever had or anything but I really like this card in its current form. No doubt there’ll be a zillion changes and fights dropping out but that’s the way things are now. We just have to crack on and hope the ones we’re arsed about stay intact, I guess.

Oh, and the real poster...

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Saturday 26th September. Back on Fight Island. Back on PPV. It’s Grace Jones vs Ricky Martin, motherfuckers.  PPV MAIN CARD Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa - Middleweight Title Dominick

I know the poster thing doesn’t matter but these should’ve been the event posters. Love these. 

At least all that flirting from Costa paid off for him in the end. In all seriousness, top performance from Adesanya that. This the guy everyone was calling a boring fighter after the Romero

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Updated the OP with the latest changes. For those keeping score...

• Marion Reneau out, Sijara Eubanks in against Ketlen Vieira.

• Nate Landwehr is out (NOOOO) against Shane Young. Some fucker called Ludovit is replacing him.

• Camur vs Knight, Hughes vs Espino and Ibragimov vs Marques added to the prelims. Camur vs Knight being the one to look out for.

Not a great card but I love the main, like the co-main a lot and there’s bits and bobs scattered throughout the undercard I’ll probably enjoy. 

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Like my astonishing lockdown weight gain, this creeped up fast.

The main event reminds me a bit of the Fury v Wilder. Adesanya is very clearly the better technical and faster fighter, but Costa can end you with the one punch. Adesanya has shown, for all his incredible ability, he can be a sloppy shite too which makes this proper intriguing.

I hope for the future of the division, that LHW title fight is a good scrap. Not sure anyone outside of the fighters families are arsed about a LHW division without Jones or DC about adding a bit of star power and personality.

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I'm very glad the flyweight bout between Kai Kara-France and Brandon Royval is on a PPV main card. I get annoyed that most flyweight contenders build their records/win streak up on the prelims and then suddenly they get a co-main event spot on a PPV or a main event spot on a fight night card which leads to very little interest in the fight because no one knows who the contender is.

The flyweight top 15 is seriously lacking in name power outside Benavidez and lets face it, he won't be getting another crack and Deiveson anytime soon.

I'd like to see the UFC putting together more top 10 match ups and putting them on the main card of shows.

I'm really excited to see William Knight vs Aleksa Camur. I know nothing about Camur but I've seen Knight on DWCS and I've seen him on a CFFC show. He isn't going to trouble the top 5 but he will be an exciting fighter to watch in the similar vein to Johnny Walker. He's 5 foot 11 and built like an absolute garden shed. He has raw power but is probably lacking on the cardio side. I'm interested to see how he does here. And you seriously need to start watching DWCS, Wand. They're the highlight of my work day week.

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From the time when this fight was expected, I've anticipated a Costa KO in round one. I'm still going with that. Adesanya is exceptional, but styles make fights and all that. 

If you fight as gung ho as Whittaker or as reserved as Romero against Adesanya, then we have seen what it looks like, and one man is coming out in front in that situation. 

Costa's a bit different though in that despite his appearance, he appears to be able to carry that pressure and power for longer than Romero could, and I think he'll wear damage better than Whittaker at this stage of their career's. He isn't going to mind taking three shots to land one. He doesn't have the wrestling chops to dominate that department, and he won't be able to play a distance striking chess game with Adesanya. He can make it a dog fight though. This one might have the making's of being a trilogy, all being well. 

I'm going with big Jan as well, like Egg Shen. Not sure there is much to pick between them, but Reyes is going to be big favourite with the bookies due to the Jones fight. This fight isn't going to look anything like that though, and Jan doesn't have his own fight with Jones to compare it to, so might be getting slept on a bit. This one feels like it's going to be grapple heavy, and I'm picking Jan in that. But it's LHW, so fuck knows, it could be over and done with after one punch in forty seconds. 

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