UFC 253 results: Israel Adesanya displays ‘gulf’ in class between himself and Paulo Costa
If UFC is banking on one superstar to fill the void left by fighters like Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, or GSP then they are definitely banking on Israel Adesanya. The 31-year-old fighter from New Zealand has been on a tear since debuting in UFC in 2018. The hype train was put behind Adesanya after his first two fights. Where others failed to justify the hype, Adesanya succeeded. In just two years’ time, Adesanya has gone from a newcomer to a champion with two title defences.
Adesanya again defended the title against the unbeaten Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi. There was bad blood between the two undefeated fighters as they exchanged ‘pleasantries’ at every opportunity they got. But when it came to the Octagon, there was only one winner. Adesanya (20-0) walked the talk and outclassed Costa (13-1) at UFC Fight Island.
There was no competition for the Kiwi as he chomped on Costa’s leg throughout the first round and the Brazilian did not have any answer for it. Costa tried to goad Adesanya into reckless abandonment but to no avail. Adesanya picked his spots to perfection and when the right moment came, he knocked Costa to the mat with a right punch. Some ground and pound and the referee waived off the fight in Adesanya’s favour. As ‘Izzy’ as it gets.
The win was the ninth straight in the UFC for Adesanya, the Nigeria-born, New Zealand-based phenomenon who has soared to prominence in mixed martial arts over the past three years.
In UFC 253′s co-main event, the 37-year-old Jan Błachowicz (27-8) capped his late-career surge by winning his first UFC title.
After controlling most of the action in a slow first round, Błachowicz abruptly ended it when he landed a high left hook to the side of Reyes’ head. Reyes wobbled, stumbled and fell, and Błachowicz promptly finished him on the ground with 24 seconds left in the round.
Unheralded flyweight Brandon Royval also had a highlight-reel win on Fight Island, stopping Kai Kara-France with a guillotine choke in the second round.
Adesanya won his title last year by beating Robert Whittaker, but he was in need of a redemptive performance after defending his belt last March with a stupendously boring decision over Yoel Romero in Las Vegas.
The champion known as “The Last Stylebender” reminded the UFC just what he can do while dispatching Costa with ease
The heavily muscled Costa opened the fight with a cocky swagger, daring Adesanya to kick his lead leg by putting his hands behind his back. Adesanya preened back at Costa, but largely kept his distance and tagged Costa with kicks.
Costa’s striking game never got going, and Adesanya wore him down before finishing the fight.
While Adesanya was a favorite, Błachowicz’s victory was a surprise. He is the first fighter other than Jones or Daniel Cormier to hold the UFC light heavyweight title since 2011, when Jones began his rocky reign.
Błachowicz is a six-year UFC veteran from Poland who earned this title shot with three straight wins, including stoppages of former champion Luke Rockhold and Corey Anderson.
(with AP inputs)