Saturday, October 31, 2020

UFC 253 Predictions: Adesanya vs. Costa

We are one sleep away from UFC 253.

Fight Island will play host to this card that boasts two world title fights. The first of the two title fights will feature Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz vying for the vacant UFC light heavyweight championship. This will set the tone for the main event of the evening between undefeated middleweights Israel Adesanya (19-0) and Paulo Costa (13-0). Also featured on the main card is Kai-Kara France vs. Brandon Royval, Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks, and Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov.

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 253 updates. Earlier today, we covered the weigh-ins, which you can see the results for here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

Before we dive into the predictions, here’s a look at the full main card:

UFC Middleweight Championship: Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Paulo Costa

UFC Light Heavyweight Championship (Vacant): Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz

Kai-Kara France vs. Brandon Royval

Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov

Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa

Clyde Aidoo: Matador vs. bull seems to be the theme in this main event showdown. The prevailing narrative is that this fight could go one of two ways: Israel Adesanya outmoves and outpoints Costa for the victory or Costa bulldozes the smaller Adesanya as he has done all others pitted against him. But Adesanya has shown finishing abilities and Costa has an underrated ground pedigree, so this battle of the undefeated has more layers than meets the eye.

Costa’s power advantage might be more effective in grappling than in the standup. He could use his girth and power to try to take the fight to the mat if Adesanya is frustrating him on the feet and then utilize his black belt jiu-jitsu skills in what will serve as a surprise to viewers and maybe Adesanya himself. But given Adesanya’s fight IQ, big-fight experience edge, and technique, I’m going to have to go with the matador on this one. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Ed Carbajal: The middleweight match-up is said to be a potential “fight of the year” candidate according to UFC President, Dana White. However, given the pressurising style of Costa and Adesanya’s savvy footwork and counter striking this could go into the later rounds and we might see Adesanya on the retreat for the early rounds. He’ll likely find a way to out point Costa and do well enough for a finish later in the fight or a decision win. (Pick: Israel Adesanya)

Andrew Ravens: We’re going to find out whether Costa is overhyped or the real deal here as he obviously has the biggest challenge in his career thus far. Adesanya has a proven track record and stylistically, I like Adesanya’s chances here. I think he uses his range to pick him apart. An underlying situation is also in play as Adesanya is a flashy guy and the negative reaction to his last fight, which was against Yoel Romero, will fuel him to make a statement. Adesanya retains by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Consensus: Israel Adesanya (3-0)

Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz

Clyde Aidoo: This bout will mark a new era in the light heavyweight division. Will that era feature Jan Blachowicz who would have picked up a third consecutive win? Blachowicz looked great when he knocked Corey Anderson out of the UFC and knocked Luke Rockhold to the brink of retirement, but Reyes proved to the world that he is a champion-caliber fighter when he arguably outfought Jon Jones at UFC 247. Had Reyes gotten the judges’ decision on the scorecards against Jones the way he did many spectators’, he’d still be undefeated. There’s no way someone who truly believes he defeated Jon Jones does not enter his next fight brimming with confidence. So I’m going to give the edge to Reyes here probably by way of KO/TKO. (Prediction: Dominick Reyes)

Ed Carbajal: These two light heavyweights are fighting for the vacant title of the division and could be the one that does win “fight of the night” accolades when looking at the two men that want the title. Blackowicz on a three-fight win streak along with his experience could give him the edge over Reyes. Still, there are those that believe Reyes beat Jones and since his first loss was a debatable decision to Jones, he could walk away with this one especially having something to prove. (Prediction: Dominick Reyes)

Andrew Ravens:  A fight to crown the new champion in the division. Look, we all remember the destruction that Blachowicz did to Corey Anderson in his last fight. The problem here is that everyone remembers that Reyes arguably beat Jon Jones when he last fought. This should be a very close back and forth fight. Honestly, it’ll go to a decision and most likely a fight that will have to be turned into a trilogy. I side with Reyes getting it done late and picking up a split decision win. (Prediction: Dominick Reyes)

Consensus: Dominick Reyes (3-0)

Kai-Kara France vs. Brandon Royval

Clyde Aidoo: Two young flyweights squaring off here with an opportunity to make a statement in front of a PPV audience. It’s hard not to be impressed by Brandon Royval’s UFC debut, as anybody who submits Tim Elliott has my respect and should have the respect of fans and betters. But despite Royval’s impressive debut, he comes in as a +200 underdog, which is understandable given that France is 4-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to top contender Brandon Moreno. I think this fight is slightly closer than the oddsmakers are giving it credit for, but I do think that France’s superior kickboxing will be enough and that France will be able to keep the fight standing enough to avoid getting submitted. (Prediction: Kai-Kara France)

Ed Carbajal: The flyweight division has a string of high-paced fights to deliver to fans so this one should not disappoint. Royval is going to have his hands full with the City Kickboxing teammate of Adesanya, but the 28-year-old is riding a three-fight win streak and seems more than ready to be tested. If he can get the fight to the ground, that could be where he wins. (Prediction: Brandon Royval)

Andrew Ravens: This fight is flying under the radar and fans should take notice of these two guys. France has gone 9-1 in his last 10 fights while Royval has won his last three and gone 6-1 in his last 7 fights. It’s a pick-em here, but either way, it’s a fun fight. I have France winning by decision as Royval is still new to the promotion. (Prediction: Kai-Kara France)

Consensus: Kai-Kara France (2-1)

Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks

Clyde Aidoo: Despite Ketlen Vieira’s KO defeat to Irene Aldana, I still believe that she is a true title contender at bantamweight. In this matchup, I feel that she has more power on the feet than Eubanks and is also better on the ground. Both women are black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but Eubanks has 0 wins by submission while Vieira has four. I believe Vieira is the bigger, stronger, younger, and more technical fighter with more career upside. Frankly, I’m surprised that she is only a -185 favorite here. (Prediction: Ketlen Vieira)

Ed Carbajal: Eubanks is getting a quick turnaround here, and that can be either good or bad when she faces Viera. While she is riding a two-fight win streak, they are both by decisions and she could be carrying a lot of wear and tear from the last fight she had on September 12. Veira has had a long time to recover from her loss last year and her freshness could get her a decisive win at UFC 253. (Prediction: Ketlen Vieira)

Andrew Ravens: These fighters enter this fight on the complete opposite side of the sport. Sijara has won her last two fights by decision while Vieira is coming off a first-round KO loss that snapped her winning streak. As much as Sijara has looked impressive as of late, I don’t like her chances here. I see Vieira brushing off her last fight and looking to prove something here en route to a decision win.  (Prediction: Ketlen Vieira)

Consensus: Ketlen Vieira (3-0)

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov

Clyde Aidoo: I expect a highly technical, tight decision in this one in a fight that I expect to stay on the feet. Tukhogov looked phenomenal in his most recent fight, knocking out Kevin Aguilar, which is no small feet, but I do not think he’ll get another stoppage here. Dawodu has never been knocked out, and he has years of kickboxing and Muay Thai experience. It is that experience that will likely serve Dawodu in slightly outpointing Tukhogov in what could be a split decision. (Prediction: Hakeem Dawodu)

Ed Carbajal: This is a fun opener to the main card as both men are coming off of wins. Dawodu won his last four and might have fought tougher opponents if you look at the last for wins against the likes of Juilio Arce and Kyle Bochniak. Still, anyone that trains with the current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is probably not going to be a walk in the park. Dawodu is more of a finisher, but Tukhugov might be able to grind out a victory. (Prediction: Zubaira Tukhugov)

Andrew Ravens: A really fun fight to open the card as Hakem has won his last four while Tukhugov has a chip on his shoulder after going back-to-back to the judges’ scorecards only to shine with a TKO win in his last fight. I like Hakeem here, but either way, someone is getting finished in the first round. (Prediction: Hakeem Dawodu)

Consensus: Hakeem Dawodu (2-1)

That’ll do it for the UFC 253 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 253!

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