Tag Archives: UFC 253

UFC 253 Fallout – Adesanya The Great, Future of Light Heavyweight

Fight Island returned with a historic card as Israel Adesanya made short work of his fiercest rival so far while Jan Blachowicz became the undisputed light heavyweight champion with a stunning knockout win.

After all the build up and talk about a potential fight of the night in the main event Adesanya entered the octagon and completely dominated Paulo Costa, evading attacks and landing leg kicks at will for the first round before opening up in the second and securing a knockout win. The manner of the victory was an eye opener for many who believed that Adesanya has been gifted a route to greatness by the UFC. Costa was flattened after promising to expose Adesanya and he had no excuse other than he isn’t as good as his opponent.

Following the bout, Adesanya explained that the fight went exactly as he expected because “I’m smart and he’s dumb,” but it was more than that. The execution of techniques and a game plan were there for all to see and now Izzy can move on from his toughest test having put in the best performance of his MMA career.

UFC 253 Reyes v Blachowicz : News Photo

He’s now turned his attention to Jared Cannonier, revealing that the two have spoken over Instagram DM’s to discuss a future bout. Cannonier is scheduled to fight former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 next month knowing a win will set up a fight for the title against ‘The Last Stylebender’ but whether that’s a favourable match up for him or not is up for debate. Adesanya seems to have the speed advantage over all the top middleweights in the world and his striking techniques are phenomenal.

This weekend was his 100th win in professional combat sports (kickboxing, boxing and MMA) and it puts him among the greatest 185lbers of all time with his idol Anderson Silva.

Up at 205lbs, Jan Blachowicz fulfilled a lifelong dream when he knocked out Dominick Reyes in the second round to become the light heavyweight champion. Despite being the underdog once again, the Polish fighter was never in danger at any point throughout the fight and after smashing Reyes’ nose to pieces he landed a huge left hook to win the fight.

Immediately after the fight he called out Jon Jones, who vacated the title to move up to heavyweight, but was also open to a potential rematch against Thiago Santos as his first title defence in the future.

The two fought each other back in February 2019 and Santos secured the knockout victory early in the 3rd round, but it’s the only defeat Blachowicz has suffered in his last nine fights. With Santos scheduled to fight Glover Teixiera in November now after twice being cancelled recently due to positive COVID-19 tests, it seems almost certain to be a number one contender fight. Jon Jones won’t be coming back to 205lbs any time soon with the heavyweight belt on his mind and that could leave the current division more open than at any point in the last 10 years.

With no Jon Jones to reign supreme, there are plenty of fighters who will fancy their chances at becoming champion in the near future. Santos, Teixiera, Reyes, Rakic and Smith will all believe that they are only two or three fights away from the title at any point in time and the match up are all favourable at different stages.

Interestingly it could be the weakest the division has been in a while but also the most entertaining with such openness at the top end. I don’t think any of the current crop will go down among the elites in the history of the sport but a few of them could end up as champions at one point or another.

If Adesanya has aspirations of becoming a double champ, this could be the ideal time for him to do it.

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Danilo Marques def Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Both men step out in tentative fashion and throw feints before Marques shoots in for an immediate takedown attempt. Ibragimov defends against the cage and grabs the fence on his way down and ends up back on his feet quickly, but the referee gives a warning. Another takedown attempt and once again Ibragimov grabs the cage to avoid ending up on the bottom. They get back to the feet and nothing else happens. 10-9 Marques.

Same again in the second round as they face off in the middle with barely any action taking place. Marques goes for a takedown and ends up on the back of Ibragimov but he fights the hands well to avoid a rear naked choke. Marques gets him down and has hooks in but doesn’t look to land any strikes or advance and the buzzer goes. Really weird fight so far. 20-18 Marques.

Final round and both men look exhausted and afraid to throw any strikes whatsoever. Marques goes for the takedown again but doesn’t throw strikes once he gets it, while Ibragimov throws a random burst of hooks every now and then but gets nowhere near landing anything. Really, really bad fight. 29-28 Marques but I’m glad it’s over.

Juan Espino def Jeff Hughes via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 1 (3:48)

Fight starts with a bit more bounce than the opener, with Espino bouncing around the outside looking for an opportunity for his takedown. He throws a big overhand right that lands nicely and then engages in a takedown attempt. He eventually gets it and the two bounce between Hughes getting back up and Espino dragging him back down. Eventually Espino ends up in side control, then transitions to full mount and he jumps over with a scarf-hold super quickly, cranks hard and secures the tap. Beautiful performance from the Spaniard.

PRELIMS

William Knight def Aleksa Camur via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

A good first round for Camur here, as Knight opens the round with a takedown attempt that gets stuffed and the rest of the round plays out in a clinch position. Camur hanging with the physicality of Knight well against the cage and landing short knees to the thighs and body but nothing too damaging. The referee separates them with 30 seconds to go and they land some nice strikes, with Knight landing two or three big shots right as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Camur for me.

Second round begins with Camur landing some nice punches and initiating the clinch against the cage once again. A few more knees and then a lovely trip gets Knight down to the ground and he looks to take the back but Knight rolls through and ends up on top after a scramble. Camur gets back up but Knight takes him down a few more times and tries to frame off for ground and pound, but Camur defends well. Knight transitions to the back and lands some nice shots and then gets into full mount and rips a nasty kimura but the buzzer goes before Camur has to tap! 19-19 going into the final round.

Third round starts and again it goes to a clinch almost immediately but this time Knight is on top. Another short scramble sees them back to the feet and in a clinch against the cage and the referee warns them to start fighting or he’ll reset. Immediately Knight goes for another takedown and the rest of the round sees him on top controlling and landing ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Knight for me.

Ludovit Klein def Shane Young via Knockout, Round 1 (1:16)

THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE! The fight starts with some body kicks from Klein, then he follows it up with a right hand and big left high-kick that wobbles Young! He lands a beautiful three-punch combo immediately afterwards that knocks Young unconscious and this one is over! Wow. What a debut!

Jake Matthews def Diego Sanchez via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)

Sanchez opens the round by rushing across the cage and getting lamped twice by the right hand of Matthews, who then catches a kick and lands a couple more shots. Matthews staying on the outside and landing at will almost with a straight right hand, while Sanchez is throwing heavily landed leg kicks that are being easily avoided. Sanchez continuing to try and rush in with hooks but Matthews is countering well with his right hand. Sanchez shoots for a takedown but Matthews sprawls and then shoots for one of his own and ends the round in top position. 10-9 Matthews.

Second round and Sanchez lands a couple of nice leg kicks but Matthews staying very patient. The straight right hand is still landing pretty much at will and Sanchez now has a bloody nose to contend with too. Sanchez loading up with all his strikes way too much and Matthews dealing with them all relatively easily. Big, wild exchange against the cage as Matthews lands a nice combination then evades Sanchez’s big hooks. Inside leg kick by Sanchez is countered by a beautiful left hook from Matthews that wobbles the veteran and Matthews pouring on the pressure now. Again Sanchez rushes in and Matthews lands a right hand to counter it. 20-18 Matthews, he’s making easy work of this.

Final round and Sanchez rushes across with a crane kick attempt that misses wildly. Matthews lands a big straight right hand that drops Sanchez. He scoots back to the cage and covers up as Matthews lands bombs on the ground and cuts Sanchez open above the eye really badly. Sanchez trying to control posture from the bottom to avoid damage but Matthews throwing big bombs down. Sanchez defends and throws up an armbar but Matthews defends well and gets back into full guard to throw more hard shots on the ground to finish the round strong. 10-8 round, 30-26 for me.

Brad Riddell def Alex Da Silva via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very competitive first round as Da Silva lands an early takedown and manages to keep the fight on the ground for the most part. Riddell defends well and tries to get back to his feet, but Da Silva seems too strong physically at this point and is able to drag him back down. Riddell get back up and breaks away then Da Silva manages to catch the neck in a clinch and goes for a guillotine but he never really gets it in and the round ends. 10-9 Da Silva.

Riddell comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands some nice strikes but then once again Da Silva gets hold of him and takes him to the cage with a single leg. Riddell defends superbly well and manages to stay up and then lands some nice shots on the feet. Da Silva looks for another takedown but doesn’t get it and eats a straight right hand. Riddell drops down for a takedown of his own but lets it go and lands a nice right hand. Riddell has the clear advantage on the feet and Da Silva is starting to slow down a bit, so Riddell shoots for a takedown of his own but Da Silva gets back up almost immediately. Da Silva fires in for a takedown again but Riddell sprawls perfectly and keeps the fight on the feet for the final 20 seconds of the round. Much better round for Riddell, 19-19.

Third round and Riddell is landing some nice strikes to start as Da Silva comes out a little slower than the previous two rounds. Riddell sprawls to stuff a takedown once again to keep the fight on the feet and he’s landing his right hook well. Da Silva moves in for a takedown against the cage and is looking to clinch but Riddell separates and goes back to striking in the pocket. The referee pauses the fight after an apparent eye-poke by Riddell but the replays show it was a clean punch. Fight restarts and Da Silva goes for a takedown again but Riddell defends well and scrambles back to his feet. More punches to that damaged eye with a minute to go but Da Silva is fighting through it. Riddell goes for a takedown against the cage but it’s stuffed and the fight ends. Should be a Riddell decision win 29-28.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu def Zubaira Tukhugov via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

Tentative round to open the main card as both guys try to feel each other out for the most part. Lots of feints, jabs and leg kicks to start with but Tukhugov landing a bit more often and a bit cleaner. Tukhugov more aggressive, advancing more and being first but neither fighter lands anything of much significance in the opening round. 10-9 Tukhugov.

Dawodu comes out in the second round and lands a nice body kick followed up by a spinning heel kick to the body too. Tukhugov is avoiding the leg kicks well but Dawodu lands a nice right hook to the chin. Both men starting to throw a little bit more freely in this round as Tukhugov lands a big left hand that is returned with a right hand from Dawodu. Right hook by Tukhugov lands but Dawodu counters with a left kick. Both men landing shots simultaneously ad Tukhugov shoots for a takedown but Dawodu defends well against the cage. Dawodu lands a nice body shot but Tukhugov shoots for a takedown and gets it and ends up on the back of Dawodu landing some light ground and pound to end the round. The takedown may have stolen the round for Tukhugov but could easily be level going into round 3.

Dawodu comes out in the final round and goes straight for some leg kicks. Tukhugov moving well but Dawodu lands more leg kicks and body shots. Tukhugov not really engaging at all and instead just circling around the cage, but Dawodu just following him instead. Dawodu erupts in anger screaming at Tukhugov to fight him but he continues to just circle. Round ends with nothing happening. 29-28 Tukhugov for me but it all comes down to the second round for me.

Ketlen Vieira def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A tentative opening round between the two ladies of the card. Vieira comes out immediately looking to clinch but Eubanks defends well and manages to break. Both women landing singular shots, with Vieira using her reach advantage well and landing the jab frequently. Eubanks employing the ‘punches in bunches’ style and doing well, before she stuffs another takedown attempt from Vieira. The Brazilian lands a beautiful combo of punches before shooting for a takedown and securing it at the end of the round. 10-9 Vieira.

Vieira comes out in the second ground aggressive once again and gets another takedown. Up against the cage and Vieira is looking for ground and pound strikes but Eubanks doing well to tie her up and control her arms to not allow her to throw any strikes. The referee stands them back up and they stand toe-to-toe in a striking match now, with Vieira using her long limbs to land first and hard as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Vieira.

Final round and Eubanks knows she needs the finish. She comes out throwing combinations but Vieira is using her length really well to land first or counter when Eubanks hits her. More punches from both women land as they exchange wildly but Vieira making sure she avoids any serious damage. The women end up on the ground in the final seconds as Vieira looks for a leg lock submission but the buzzer goes with Eubanks landing some ground and pound. 29-28 Vieira for me.

Brandon Royval def Kai Kara France via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (0:38)

Brandon Royval comes flying out of the traps and eats a leg kick from Kara France that sits him down. He gets back up and walks towards Kara France and eats a huge right overhand on the chin that drops him! He stands back and throws a spinning elbow that catches Kara-France flush and knocks him down! He tries to lock up an omoplata submission but Kara France comes back around and manages to fight his way out of it. They get back to their feet and start throwing hell for leather. Royval lands a knee against the cage that drops Kara France again but he survives the round. What a fight! 10-9 Royval.

Second round starts and Kara France goes in for a takedown and lifts Royval, but he locks up the neck and sinks in a standing guillotine! Kara France drops down to the mat, Royval makes an adjustment with his legs to tighten it and gets the tap! What a performance!

Jan Blachowicz def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:36)

A very cagey opening round for this fight as both men look to feel each other out early on. Both men throwing leg kicks and counter straights but nothing significant landing early. Blachowicz lands a beautiful body kick below the elbow that visibly marks Reyes up but other than that a pretty slow round. 10-9 Blachowicz.

A slow start once again to this second round as both guys are feeling each other out still, making reads and feinting. Reyes lands a body kick nicely but Blachowicz returns with one of his own. Blachowicz charges forward with big combos and shatters the nose of Reyes! Reyes tries to slug it out looking for a knockout but Blachowicz lands another big left hand that drops him! The Pole jumps on top and lands some ground and pound before the referee steps in. New champion!

Israel Adesanya def Paulo Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (3:59)

Cagey start to this title fight too as Adesanya attacks the legs of Costa early with teep kicks and calf kicks. Costa taking the centre but Adesanya staying light on his feet and evading Costa’s kick attempts. Both fighters taunting each other but it’s Adesanya doing damage. 10-9 to the champ.

Second round shows more of Adesanya’s kickboxing class as he stays at range and continues to chew up the leg of Costa. Costa is struggling with his movement and Adesanya is starting to land punches to the head. Big head kick from Adesanya cuts Costa open above the eye. Costa charges forward now looking to be aggressive, but Adesanya evades and lands a big right hand to the temple that drops Costa! Adesanya goes knee on belly and lands huge shots to the head and the referee steps in! AAAAND STILL!! What a masterclass.

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Main Card Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I have already predicted the prelims of this card here and will look to try and improve my total this time around.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A real toss-up of a fight to open the main card as these two up and coming featherweights face off. Dawodu is currently on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Austin Arnett, Kyle Bochniak, Yoshinori Hori and Julio Arce while Tukhugov has a win, a loss and a draw in his last three bouts. Both fighters are pretty well rounded all-in-all and could go either way. Dawodu has a power advantage on the feet but Tukhugov has a ground advantage, although Dawodu has excellent takedown defence to combat that. With just half an inch reach between the two also, there really is barely anything between the two fighters. If I had to pick, I’d side with Tukhugov simply because if he can get the fight to the ground then he should be able to control the fight from there but this could genuinely go either way.
PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Unanimous Decision

Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Another razor close match up here, this time in the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira makes her first appearance since December last year where she was beaten by Irene Aldana, while Sijara Eubanks makes a quick turnaround following her win over Julia Avila just two weeks ago. Vieira is a rangy striker who uses her striking to land takedowns and top control, where she can work for submissions, while Eubanks is a kickboxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Vieira has a natural size advantage and has great takedowns, something that Eubanks could struggle with considering the way she won her last bout but as a black belt she will feel that she is capable of hanging with her opponent. The fight essentially comes down to who lands heavier on the feet and who ends up on top on the ground. With a wave of momentum on her side, I’ll go with Sijara Eubanks but her fights are notoriously hard to pick.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision

Kai Kara-France (21-8 1NC) vs Brandon Royval (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between two very exciting prospects in the division as Kai Kara-France makes his first appearance since February’s win over Tyson Nam when he takes on Brandon Royval. Royval won his UFC debut on short-notice against Tim Elliot back in May when he ragdolled the veteran and ended up submitting him. This is a fight between two very good fighters who are looking to work their way up the rankings. Kara-France is the better striker of the two marginally and has the better wrestling, while Royval’s jiu-jitsu is mightily impressive. The issue for Royval is that because of the wrestling edge Kara-France has, the best chance he has of getting this to the ground to work his submissions is via a knockdown. That’s unlikely in my eyes so I think Kara-France is able to out-strike his opponent on the feet to a fairly comfortable but entertaining decision win.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (26-8) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The new era in the light heavyweight division begins with this fight, as a new champion will be crowned. Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon for the first time since his controversial defeat to Jon Jones back in February while Blachowicz comes in on a three-fight win streak following wins over Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson. Reyes is a powerful southpaw fighter, who’s boxing caused so many problems for Jon Jones in his last fight. He has amazing power but also tremendous footwork to evade attacks, plus a fierce body kick. His takedown defence was on show in that fight too as Jones went 2/9 on takedown attempts. Blachowicz is a more aggressive wrestler than Jones, although I wouldn’t say he’s better. He’s got scary power in his hands too but he tends to prefer securing takedowns and using his jiu-jitsu game. If he employs those tactics again, Reyes will look to use that same defence that he used against Jones and if he lands as much this time around as he did in his last fight he will surely land the knockout in this one.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 3

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The fight of the year. The middleweight title crown is up for grabs but also both men put their undefeated records on the line in this one. Adesanya is 19-0 having beaten Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in his last three bouts while Costa beat Romero, Uriah Hall and Johnny Hendricks in his last three. There will be no grappling in this bout, that much is almost guaranteed. Adesanya is a former world kickboxing champion while Costa is one of the most powerful punchers in the entire company. Costa has a tendency to tuck his chin in and just storm forward, happy to eat punches in order to give some back. He loves to rip to the body in combinations before throwing hooks to the head, something Adesanya will look to avoid by not getting stuck up against the cage. Adesanya will look to use his feet to maintain some distance but he will use his speed advantage to land strikes in the inevitable wild exchanges that Costa will look to force. Interestingly enough, despite both of these men being fierce knockout artists I don’t think this fight ends in a knockout. We’ve seen that both of these guys are ready for war and do possess a chin to go with their striking and I think that while there will be some wobbly moments for both guys, Adesanya’s movement and fight IQ will see him come out on top on the judges scorecards.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Prelims Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I’ll look to see if I can do better this time around, starting with the prelims here.

EARLY PRELIMS

Khadis Ibragimov (8-3) vs Danilo Marques (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that deserves the opening spot on the card as Khadis Ibragimov looks to end a three-fight losing streak against Danilo Marques, making his UFC debut after almost 3 years without a fight. Ibragimov hasn’t won in the UFC yet, being choked out by Da Un Jung, held to a decision loss by Ed Herman and knocked out by Roman Dolidze in his three outings so far. Marques’ time away from the cage makes it hard to know what he’ll do but in previous fights he has shown some okay wrestling and not much else. His 8 stoppage wins are evenly split between knockouts and submissions but it’s no surprise he hadn’t made it to the UFC before now. Ibragimov has the advantage everywhere in this fight so as long as he doesn’t do anything ridiculous he should be able to get his first taste of victory in the octagon.
PICK – Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision

Juan Espino (10-1) vs Jeff Hughes (10-3 1NC) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The most recent Ultimate Fighter winner Juan Espino takes on Jeff Hughes with both men looking to earn a first UFC win for their record. Espino came through the TUF house in 2018, winning the UFC contract with a straight armbar submission win over Justin Frazier, while Jeff Hughes has tasted defeat to Maurice Greene (who Espino beat in the TUF house) and Raphael Pessoa either side of a no contest against Todd Duffee. Espino is an excellent wrestler and has a similar style to Curtis Blaydes, in that he insists on takedowns followed by damage except he goes for tap-outs over knockouts. Hughes is a capable boxer but he just isn’t of the level of his peers in the UFC and it’s shown. He was demolished by Pessoa in a fight he really had no reason for losing, so I can’t see past Espino getting a takedown and locking in a choke early doors.
PICK – Juan Espino via Submission, Round 1

PRELIMS

William Knight (8-1) vs Aleksa Kamur (6-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After earning a UFC developmental contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in August last year, Knight has won three out of four fights since then to earn a full contract. His most recent win came just three weeks ago when he knocked out Cody Brundage. Aleksa Kamur is a training partner to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and has shown similar boxing skills to that of the GOAT big-man. Kamur has five knockout wins from six fights, with the only flaw being his UFC debut against Justin Ledet where he won a unanimous decision. Knight’s best attribute is undoubtedly his top game, but his wrestling defence and takedowns aren’t great. He seems to hope for a sweep on the ground before blasting off his patented ground and pound but Kamur has good takedown defence and is a much better stand-up fighter. If he can stay composed and avoid the takedown, Kamur should be able to get a knockout win on the feet.
PICK – Aleksa Kamur via Knockout, Round 2

Shane Young (13-4) vs Ludovit Klein (16-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

After almost 18 months away from the octagon, Shane Young returns to take on UFC debutant Ludovit Klein in the featherweight division. After a five fight win streak, Young was matched up with now-champion Alex Volkanovski in his UFC debut and was beaten by decision but has since gone on to win two in a row including a performance of the night against Rolando Dy. Klein comes into the organisation on a seven-fight win streak having finished six of those opponents. If the card didn’t have Adesanya vs Costa on it, this would be a contender for fight of the night. Both guys are explosive, with good kickboxing skills and are comfortable if it gets to the ground. Klein has the advantage on the ground with his 8 submission wins over his career but it’s on the feet where he prefers to do his work. He has a bit more snap and power to his shots and he kicks really well, especially to the head. Klein is coming in on relatively short notice but he seems to always stay ready and with Young looking to return with a win, both guys could come with power. Ultimately, I think Klein just has the slight edge everywhere and if both fight to their best Klein should be able to edge it.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision

Diego Sanchez (30-12) vs Jake Matthews (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The wild man veteran of the welterweight division makes his return as Diego Sanchez stops off on Fight Island during his farewell tour to take on the ‘Celtic Kid’ Jake Matthews. Sanchez KO’d Mickey Gall with ground and pound before being dominated by Michael Chiesa in his next bout. His last fight however ended up as a disqualification win after he was smashed by Michel Pereira who landed an illegal knee. Sanchez took the result over more punishment. Matthews has won his last two, defeating Rostem Akman and Emil Meek via unanimous decision. Sanchez’s crazy pace and takedown heavy style wears many an opponent out and he has power in his hands during a wild exchange but his issue here will be that Matthews is just as dangerous. A very well rounded fighter, Matthews can hang regardless of where the fight goes and he’s a bigger, stronger man. He will likely use his natural power to avoid the takedowns and dominate the fight, landing enough to earn a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Jake Matthews via Unanimous Decision

Brad Riddell (8-1) vs Alex Da Silva (21-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The lead striking coach of Tiger Muay Thai continues his transition over to MMA as Brad Riddell looks to make it 3 wins in a row in the UFC against youngster Alex Da Silva. Despite his impressive 23 professional fights, with 20 finishes from 21 wins, Silva is still only 24 years old. Despite a mixed bag of talent among those opponents, the performances he’s churned out have been impressive. Riddell though is one of the best kickboxers on the planet. Now training MMA with Alexander Volkanovski and co, he is taking his game to the next level. He showed in his decision win over Magomed Mustafaev that he is improving his ground game but that he is also on a whole different level on the feet. Da Silva has a decent ground game but he prefers to kickbox too, which will see him in a world of trouble. He could try to score takedowns but he’s not the ultimate wrestler so there is no guarantee he gets the fight down. Overall, I think Riddell keeps the fight standing and eventually lands a flurry of punches and kicks to end the fight.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 2

Dominick Reyes Wants His Throne As New Light Heavyweight Era Begins

As the UFC returns to Fight Island this Saturday for UFC 253, it will mark the beginning of a new era at light heavyweight.

For the first time since 2011, someone other than Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier will be crowned the undisputed light heavyweight champion as Dominick Reyes takes on Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event.

Many believe however that this fight is champion vs challenger anyway. Reyes took on Jon Jones in what turned out to be his final 205lbs title defence back in February and many believe he won. After landing more strikes on Jones than anyone in history and managing to keep up the pace for almost the entire 25 minutes, the official decision was unanimous in favour of the champion.

Many called for an immediate rematch between the two but after months of negotiations between Jones and the UFC, he chose to vacate the belt and move up to heavyweight for a potential showdown with Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou.

That leaves the 205lbs throne unattended and Reyes is ready to step up and claim the spot he feels is his already. A fight against Blachowicz will be a tough test, with the Polish fighter coming off the back of seven wins from his last eight fights with his only defeat coming to former title challenger Thiago Santos.

UFC Fight Night: Reyes v Weidman : News Photo

With Reyes’ fantastic boxing skill and explosive power, Blachowicz is the underdog going into the fight and probably rightly so. How do you bet against the man who many believe defeated the greatest of all time?

The state of the division currently isn’t great. After these two at the top of the division, the winner will likely take on the winner of Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira in a soon to be rescheduled fight, while Aleksandar Rakic is also lurking following his dominant win over Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith. A new champion could be the injection that the division needs, with no more one-sided fights in the eyes of the casual but it’s also lacking star power.

If Reyes can get another big knockout win like he did against Jared Cannonier and Chris Weidman then he could get the attention of the masses, especially on a card that is likely to house the fight of the year in the main event.

It’s time for someone to step up and take the light heavyweight division by the throat following Jon Jones’ departure. While Jan Blachowicz will hope he can do it, the masses believe it’s time for Dominick Reyes’ destiny to claim the crown as undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world.

Israel Adesanya Facing Toughest Test Yet But A Win Puts Him Among The Greats

As UFC 253 approaches fight night, the UFC continue to hype the main event as the fight of the year. They’re not wrong.

Israel Adesanya puts his middleweight title on the line when he takes on Paulo Costa, with both fighters undefeated and ready for war. There is a genuine dislike between the two, with their rivalry stretching back several years to when Adesanya called out the winner of Costa’s fight with Uriah Hall. Costa replied at the time with “who?”, believing he was way better than Izzy and he was looking up the rankings.

But after more than a year between his wins over Uriah Hall and Yoel Romero, Adesanya took over the division. Adesanya defeated Brad Tavares the night before Costa’s win against Hall, but during Borrachina’s time away from the octagon Stylebender defeated Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum to win the interim world title and set up an undisputed title fight with Robert Whittaker.

Even when Adesanya won the belt, Costa suffered a torn rotator cuff which meant he missed out on the first title shot which went to Yoel Romero in one of the worst fights of 2020. But now Adesanya has promised to make amends at UFC 253.

With both fighters undefeated throughout their careers, this is the ultimate match-up. Not only is the title on the line but their perfect records are too.

Adesanya has already defeated the legendary Anderson Silva as well as Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero, three of the best middleweights the UFC has ever seen. A win over Costa and becoming the first man to beat him will elevate his standing among the best we’ve ever seen. He’s got a very long way to go before he reaches Anderson Silva’s legend but with the way he’s beating guys, and the calibre of guys he’s beating, he’s on his way.

UFC 241 Cormier v Miocic 2 : News Photo

He is one of the best, most creative strikers we have ever seen and despite the skinny body and slender frame he has power. As he said in his post-fight octagon interview following the win over Derek Brunson; he doesn’t throw and hope, he aims and fires.

Paulo Costa will pose a completely new threat to Adesanya though. He is comfortably the best boxer that Adesanya has faced in the octagon but he’s also the most powerful and the quickest. Costa has a fearsome stance, where he just marches forward and is willing to exchange. It’s almost a kill or be killed mentality. He took on Yoel Romero in a way that nobody else ever has. Not only does he have genuine one-punch knockout power, he has a willingness to attack the body of his opponent. He has a nasty hook to the mid-section that he throws better than anyone else in the company and if he can land it on Izzy and slow down the footwork and kicking game of the champion, he has every chance of winning the fight.

This is a fight that is about more than just technique and being the better MMA fighter. This is every bit as much to do with who wants it more. Both men are hungry and both men have all their pride on the line in this fight. It’s perfectly set up for fight of the year on Fight Island.

Should Costa win, he ends the Adesanya hype train. He continues as a dominant, powerful 185lber who has the skillset to knock out anyone and become a fan favourite through his style. A win for Adesanya puts him among the all-time great middleweight champions.

Khamzat Chimaev Double Booked For UFC Events In Next Month

The train is en route to the station and the UFC are anticipating a quick turnaround for Khamzat Chimaev.

The Dagestani-Swede fighter shook up the MMA world back in July when he won two fights in two different weight classes in just 10 days to stake his claim among the top ranked prospects in the welterweight division.

After destroying John Phillips at middleweight and then dismantling young Rhys McKee, Chimaev wanted another quick turnaround for a fight in August and called out Demian Maia. The fight never came together that month with travel issues playing a part, but the UFC have seemingly sorted him out and are making up for lost time.

Chimaev will now fight Gerald Meerschaert on September 19th in Las Vegas on the undercard to Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley. Should he be successful in that bout, Dana White has revealed that they are looking to pair him up with Demian Maia on Fight Island which is expected to take place for UFC 253 when Israel Adesanya takes on Paulo Costa for the middleweight championship.

Meerschaert has lost four of his last six fights, including being knocked out by Ian Heinisch in the first round at UFC 250. With Chimaev currently 8-0 and riding high on the wave of momentum following his two wins, it’s highly likely that he will look to end this one early once again in a similar fashion to the way he dominated Phillips and McKee.

The bout with Maia is much more interesting however. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert had won three in a row before a knockout defeat to Gilbert Burns back in March. In that run of wins, he beat legendary wrestler Ben Askren via submission after the two exchanged strikes due to the others grappling strengths.

The difference here is Khamzat is an accomplished kickboxer too, so striking is something he is comfortable doing. It may mean that we’ll see a new side to Chimaev in that fight should it happen. The other option of course is that he continues his path of destruction by wrestling his opponent immediately and just profusely beating on them until he can secure a submission or the referee shows some mercy.

A win over Meerschaert and Maia would elevate Chimaev straight into the top contenders of the division, and possible future bouts against the likes of Colby Covington or Leon Edwards could be all that separate him from a title shot within a year of entering the organisation.

Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa Announced for UFC 253

The UFC have announced that Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against Paulo Costa on September 19th at UFC 253.

Adesanya is undefeated in his professional MMA career, with a 19-0 record including wins over Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Kelvin Gastelum. Costa is also undefeated and comes in with a record of 13-0 including wins over Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall and Jonny Hendricks.

In one of the most exciting bouts in recent middleweight history, these two elite level strikes will clash to see who the undisputed king of the 185lbs weight class really is.

This feud has got more and more heated in recent times too. Adesanya and Costa were supposed to clash immediately after Adesanya knocked out Robert Whittaker to become the undisputed champion back in October 2019. The Brazilian suffered a torn rotator cuff injury though and was unable to compete. That led to Adesanya’s underwhelming clash with Yoel Romero, who Costa had just beaten via decision.

Both men have accused the other of ducking them, and the jibes have continued online with several tweets.

But now that the fight is signed, sealed and official we can begin to look forward to fireworks in the cage rather than outside it between these two undefeated behemoths.

While Adesanya is the more technical striker, Costa is absolutely no joke. He has ridiculous knockout power, excellent technique and a granite chin. He is yet to fight a five-round fight in the UFC but so far his conditioning has never been a problem, even when he had a three-round war with Yoel Romero.

Adesanya will have a speed advantage and his footwork is excellent. He showed against Kelvin Gastelum that he has a chin too, but he’s never taken a punch from someone with the power of Costa.

It will surely prove to be an exciting match-up and I’d be shocked if it went the same way as the Izzy-Yoel match where both fighters just didn’t strike.