After an initial report by Combate, Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya is expected to defend the title against Paulo Costa on September 26th at UFC 253.
This will mark Adesanya’s third consecutive title defense, with victories over Robert Whittaker (October 2019) and Yoel Romero (March 2020) already on his record.
Previously, the UFC intended to push a Lightweight title fight between Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 253. However, the two are now scheduled to fight in October at UFC 254.
With 1.3 million pay-per-view buys at UFC 251, an event where Kamaru Usman won via unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal, the UFC has the opportunity to put together another historic card. The success at UFC 251 marked its highest pay-per-view rate since UFC 229; a main event headlined by Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor.
Even without a stacked card to the caliber of UFC 251, Adesanya vs Costa has major implications. For the first time since 2009, the UFC will display a title bout in which both fighters are undefeated. The first instance occurred at UFC 98, in which then-Champion Rashad Evans was knocked out by Lyoto Machida. Since then, there have been 150 title fights in the male divisions.
The feud between Adesanya and Costa has been ongoing for months. After securing the title at UFC 243 over Kelvin Gastelum, Adesanya had a few choice words for Costa:
Despite a lackluster outing in his unanimous victory over Romero, Adesanya remains on a mission to cement his legacy as the best Middleweight of all time. Assuming everything aligns, he will have his opportunity to stand across from one of the most powerful strikers in the UFC.
For Costa, a torn left biceps scratched any intention of fighting Adesanya earlier this year. In his eight-year MMA career, his unanimous victory over Romero in August of 2019 was the first time in which the fight went the entire distance. To date, 11 of his 13 victories come via KO/TKO to go along with one submission.
Adesanya vs Costa is the bout that the UFC community wanted. It features two outstanding fighters within their primes that showcase extreme, yet different skillsets. While Adesanya is profound when it comes to counter strikes and unique combos, Costa provides power and a willingness to end fights quickly.