Going into his main event tilt against Paulo Costa at UFC 253, Israel Adesanya felt this fight was personal. Some pundits wrote him off for what they felt was a lackluster performance against Yoel Romero at UFC 248. Adesanya vowed to silence those who doubted him and wanted to make a definitive statement.
Adesanya was a man of his word, dominating from the opening bell by chopping down Costa like a tree with leg kicks, which allowed him to finish the Brazilian off at the 3:59 mark of the second round to remain the middleweight champion on "Fight Island" from the Flash Forum at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. DAZN News scored the first round for Adesanya.
"I've been telling you guys, like Roy Jones said, 'Y'all musta forgot' because of what happened last time," Adesanya told Jon Anik in his post-fight interview. "You thought, 'Oh, he's so boring, blah blah blah blah blah' and I see you media people as well with your clickbait headlines, but trust me, I had to make y'all remember we the best."
Everything Adesanya did was flawless. He came right out and made it a point by chipping away at Costa's legs so he couldn't put anything into his vicious power shots. Adesanya showed precision in the quickness of his kicks and chewed Costa's leg up badly, bruising him from knee to shin.
At the beginning of the second, Adesanya started to let his hands go. Costa had no answer as he was gun shy due to the onslaught in front of him. The beginning of the end came when Adesanya connected on a head kick that Costa somehow absorbed, but it split him open. Costa tried to come back but missed with a left hand and buckled from the barrage of kicks damaged his legs. Adesanya saw the opening and dropped Costa with a left hand. "The Last Style Bender" pounced on the opportunity and landed a barrage of blows to retain the championship for the second time and hand Costa his first defeat.
Adesanya runs his record to 20-0 and 9-0 in the UFC. Adesanya isn't content as he already has his next foe in mind.
"I already DM'd Jared Cannonier," Adesanya said. "He's a hell of a dude. I love his energy. He's a beautiful man. I said, 'You destroy Robert Whittaker, and you're next.' He's the one I want to fight next. He deserves it. If he beats Robert Whittaker handily and dominates him, he's next.
"I think Jared's gonna dust Robert Whittaker."— UFC (@ufc) September 27, 2020
🇳🇿 @Stylebender breaks down the No. 1 contender fight at #UFC254
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Here is what happened at UFC 253.
UFC 253 results
(All Times Eastern)
Israel Adesanya stops Paulo Costa to remain middleweight champion
12:50 a.m.: Adesanya def. Costa via TKO at 3:59 of the second round to retain the middleweight title. A short left hand by Adesanya sent Costa to the canvas, and Adesanya connected on a bevy of shots to retain the belt for the second time.
TOO EASY.— UFC (@ufc) September 27, 2020
👑 @Stylebender is the undefeated king of the middleweights.
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Round 1: Adesanya looks sharp. He's got a game plan of chopping down Costa's legs with one thudding leg kick after another. You could see Costa is trying to conserve his gas tank to go 25 minutes. Let's see if he picks up the pace as you don't want to lose the opening two rounds. (10-9 Adesanya)
12:24 a.m.: It is now time for the main event as Israel Adesanya defends the middleweight title against No. 2 ranked Paulo Costa. Adesanya (19-0) returns for the first time since UFC 249, beating Yoel Romero by unanimous decision. Costa (13-0) comes back for the first time since UFC 241 in August 2019, also beating Romero by unanimous decision.
This is the fight everyone has wanted to see and now we get it. I'd be shocked if it goes the distance. The animosity between Adesanya and Costa runs deep and you know they want to finish the other off.
Jan Blachowicz blasts through Dominick Reyes to capture vacant light heavyweight title
12:14 a.m.: Blachowicz def. Reyes by TKO at 4:36 of the second round to win the vacant light heavyweight title. After dominating the first round with his heavy strikes, Blachowicz continued the same in the second. The complexion of the fight changed when Blachowicz connected on a left hook followed by a straight right hand which sent Reyes quickly backpedaling and looking for a place to reset. Blachowicz continued to stalk Reyes with one shot after another. Blachowicz hit another straight right hand and blasted Reyes with an overhand left to send him to the canvas. Smelling blood, Blachowicz rained down a series of shots to become the new 205-pound champion.
Give Blachowicz credit. He came in supremely focused and wasn't going to let anyone get in his way at UFC 253. Who would have thought Jan Blachowicz as the UFC light heavyweight champion in 2020?
BOW DOWN TO THE KING 👑— UFC (@ufc) September 27, 2020
🇵🇱 @JanBlachowicz has taken over the throne.
[ B2YB @P3Protein ] #UFC253 pic.twitter.com/M9rF7Cgr2Y
Round 1: If you are a fan of Jan Blachowicz, you couldn't have asked for a better start. He threw and connected on more strikes than Reyes. Everything Blachowicz throws is with evil intentions, including a thudding body kick that left a footprint on Reyes, who needs to get busier. He looked to be trying to conserve his gas tank, which failed him against Jones. (10-9 Blachowicz)
11:50 p.m.: It's time for the co-main event of UFC 253 as No. 1-ranked Dominick Reyes meets No. 3-ranked Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title. The title became up for grabs when Jon Jones relinquished the belt in August. Reyes (12-1) last fought at UFC 247, losing a close decision to Jones that some people feel should have gone Reyes' way. Blachowicz (26-8) comes in on a three-fight winning streak with two of them coming inside the distance.
The winner becomes the first 205-pound who isn't either Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier since UFC 128. This should be a slugfest, so don't get up for a bathroom break or to grab a refreshment.
Brandon Royval chokes out Kai Kara-France
11:40 p.m.: Royval def. Kara-France via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:48 of the second round. After an action-packed first round that was among one of the best of the year. Kara-France tried for a takedown but Royval snatched in the guillotine, and the New Zealand native tapped out. What a showing from Royval. He showed that he belongs in the upper echelon in what's become an interesting flyweight division.
11:32 p.m.: A dynamic opening round as we have seen with a double knockdown and some explosive striking from Kara-France and Royval. There's a possibility that Royval could regret not trying to Kara-France with punches after sending him down with a head kick and attempting a submission.
11:27 p.m.: Right now at UFC 253, No. 7-ranked Kai Kara-France faces No. 9-ranked Brandon Royval in flyweight action. A huge contest at 125 pounds as the winner sets himself up for jump into the top five.
Ketlen Vieira garners first win in 30 months
11:18 p.m.: Vieira def. Eubanks via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). It's been a long road back for Vieira and good to see her get the victory after a series of injuries derailed her career for over two years. A competitve tilt for 15 minutes in which Vieira got the nod on the judges' scorecard with a takedown with seconds remaining that secured a nip-and-tuck first round for the Brazilian. Vieira's striking carried her to winning the second and to do enough to notch her first win since March 2018.
10:51 p.m.: Up next at UFC 253, No. 7-ranked Ketlen Viera takes on No. 13-ranked Sijara Eubanks in women's bantamweight action. The injury bug has struck Vieira (10-1) as this is only her second fight in 30 months. Her last time out, Viera suffered her only defeat, losing by first-round knockout to Irene Aldana. Eubanks (7-4) returns for the third time in 2020 and second outing in two weeks, replacing Marlon Reneau. She defeated Julia Avila via unanimous decision.
A good test for both fighters here. Eubanks has all the momentum and Vieira needs a win to get things back on track.
Hakeem Dawodu gets narrow decision over Zubaira Tukugov
10:43 p.m.: Dawodu def. Tukugov by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28). A solid fight and good performance from Dawodu. The tide shifted in Dawodu's direction 90 seconds into the third round when he started to stuff Tukugov's takedowns and light the Russian up with his variety of strikes on the feet. Not a fan of the obscenties and trash talk from Dawodu as the fight was still in question. But the Canadian has now won five in a row, and there's no reason he shouldn't be ranked next week.
10:08 p.m.: The UFC 253 main card begins with Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov in featherweight action. Dawodu (11-1-1) is on a tear, reeling off four consecutive victories while Turkhugov (19-4-1) has only suffered one loss in the last eight years. A fantastic way to start the pay-per-view portion of UFC 253.
8:51 p.m.: You couldn't have asked for a better UFC debut. What a finish from Ľudovít Klein.
7:48 p.m.: Juan Espino going with a pro wrestling move to submit Jeff Hughes.
Big time squeeze by @juan_espino_ofi 😬— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 26, 2020
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7:00 p.m.: Welcome to DAZN News' live coverage of UFC 253 as it returns to "Fight Island" with two championship bouts on the docket: the main event of middleweight champion Israel Adesanya taking on Paulo Costa and the co-main event of Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title.
Grab the refreshments, get comfy on the couch for what is expected to be a dynamic night of action.
UFC 253 undercard results
- Brad Riddell def. Alex Da Silva by via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Jake Matthews def. Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Ludovit Klein def. Shane Young via knockout at 1:16 of the first round
- William Knight def. Aleksa Camur by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Juan Espino def. Jeff Hughes via submission (scarf hold) at 3:48 of the first round
- Danilo Marquis def. Khadis Ibragimov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC 253 fight card
- Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Paulo Costa for Adesanya's Middleweight title
- Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Błachowicz for vacant Light Heavyweight title
- Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Royval; Flyweight
- Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks; Women's Bantamweight
- Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov; Featherweight
- Brad Riddell vs. Alex Da Silva; Lightweight
- Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Matthews; Welterweight
- Shane Young vs. Ľudovít Klein; Featherweight
- William Knight vs. Aleksa Camur; Light Heavyweight
- Juan Espino vs. Jeff Hughes; Heavyweight
- Khadis Ibragimov vs. Danilo Marques; Light Heavyweight