The UFC 253 main event tomorrow features a battle of two undefeated strikers with distinctively different styles: the champion, Israel Adesanya, the wiley and technical, long-range kickboxer, versus Paulo Costa, the aggressive, hard-charging slugger. Vastly different styles and physicalities–which when viewed in the context of their respective histories in the octagon–seem to foreshadow the direction that this battle will take.
I predict that Costa will come out swinging in the early rounds, looking to connect with heavy blows early to get a quick finish. He and his team must know that the longer the fight goes the more it favors Adesanya. I see Adesanya playing the outside and counter-striking, looking to hold off Costa’s early onslaught, trying pick him apart and perhaps landing hard in order to create an opening to finish it. I think the fight will go as most hardcore fans and experts think, which is to say, much in line with each fighter’s strengths and typical approaches displayed in previous fights. I do not feel that the fight will mimic the Adesanya vs Romero fight, because I am confident that Costa will not hold back and wait for the perfect opportunity, as Romero has always done. I see the classic brawler vs technician dynamic playing out in this one.
In short, this fight is tailor-made for the Last Stylebender. I see Adesanya holding Costa off early, picking him apart with strikes, and finishing him within three rounds–likely in two. What do you think?