UFC 253: all you need to know about Adesanya vs Costa and the rest of Saturday’s card

The Ultimate Fighting Championship carnival heads back to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi for a UFC 253 card that’s headlined by a massive all-or-nothing middleweight title clash – read on to discover the stories and narratives surrounding Saturday’s battle to determine the king of the 185lbs division at UFC 253.

Israel Adesanya’s defence of his crown against Paulo Costa has been a long time coming, and the challenger’s record of 12 stoppages in his 13 career fights underlines the threat the Brazilian has of claiming his belt.

UFC 253 – where and when?

UFC 253 will take place behind closed doors on Saturday, September 26 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

Early prelims kick off at 7pm ET in the US, with the main card expected to start at around 10pm ET / 7pm PT.

ESPN+ is your place to watch in the US and we have further details below.

With a genuine dislike between the two fighters outside of the Octagon, a memorable grudge match looks set to be in store. Adesanya has gone 8-0 in his UFC career, with Costa trailing with a 5-0 record, but both also hold no losses in MMA terms either.

The strong bill also boasts a co-main event in the form of the light heavyweight clash for the vacant title between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz, with the belt on the line following Jon Jones’ decision to move up to heavyweight division. 

UFC 253 marks the first in a series of five new events planned for UFC’s Fight Island campus in Abu Dhabi, following the successful series of events on the island back in July. Upcoming events on Yas Island will include UFC Fight Night’s featuring the likes of Holly Holm, Marlon Moraes, and Chan Sung Jung a.k.a. “The Korean Zombie.”

Read on to discover all you need to know about UFC 253 or, if you just want to know where to watch the event from your corner of the globe, head straight on over to our UFC 253 live stream info page.


Who are Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa?

Nigerian-born, New Zealand resident Israel Adesanya has made a quick-fire rise through the UFC ranks, going from newcomer to middleweight champ in under two-years. Nicknamed ‘The Last Stylebender, the huge anime fan has a 19-0 career record with an 8-0 in the Octagon. All of those eight UFC victories have come since February 2018.

The 31-year-old claimed his title last October by knocking out Robert Whittaker, with the former kick boxer going on to beat Yoel Romero in March in a highly disappointing fight by decision.

Nicknamed ‘The Eraser’, Paulo Costa, has a 13-0 career record, 11 of those wins coming by knockout.

Charting a similar meteoric rise to Adesanya, the Brazilian made his professional UFC Fight Night debut in March of 2017. A massive man for the 185-pound division, Costa is only middleweight in UFC history to begin his octagon career with four consecutive knockout wins and boasts a 8.43 significant strikes per minute ratio – the highest rate in UFC history.

Who is the favorite to win the Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa fight?

Adesanya’s champion status perhaps hands him the advantage with the bookies, but its not a significant one – the UK’s William Hill place him as -170 favourite with Costa installed as a +150 underdog.

When did Adesanya and Costa last step into the cage?

Adesanya’s last appearance in the Octagon, and his first defence of the title, did some damage to his reputation as one of the sport’s big entertainers with the Kiwi noticeable cagey and unwilling to engage against Yoel Romero in UFC 248’s headline act. Despite the no-thrills performance, Adesanya nevertheless delivered a unanimous points decision. 

It’s been over a year since Costa’s last fight, which also came against Yoel Romero, with the Brazilian also going the distance and winning via a unanimous points decision in the UFC 241 clash.

What are the other highlights from UFC 253?

As mentioned above, alongside the main event, there’s also another title fight on the bill, with Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz’s Light Heavyweight showdown.

The card also boasts an exciting Flyweight bout between seventh-ranked Kai Kara-France and Brandon Royval and an intriguing women’s Bantamweight match-up between Ketlen Vieira and Sijara Eubanks, with Vieira looking to get back to winning ways following her first career defeat to Irene Adlana back in December last year.

How to watch UFC 253 online in the US exclusively on ESPN

Over in the US trying to track down the perfect UFC 253 stream? ESPN+ has had the exclusive rights for the past year meaning it is the one place to watch it.

There are two options on cost, completely depending on whether or not you already subscribe to the service. If you don’t, then the best way to go is with a UFC Bundle, costing you $84.98. That gets you both the UFC 253 PPV and a year-long subscription to ESPN+ (that would normally cost $50 alone).

Your other option is to just simply buy access to UFC 253 for $64.99. You can tune in to watch all of the action including preliminary fights on Saturday September 26 from 7pm ET.
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What does a UFC fan receive with their ESPN+ subscription?

As well as all the action from Abu Dhabi on Satuday, a subscription to ESPN+ opens up access to exclusive live UFC Fight Nights, alongside original content including Dana White’s Contender Series, UFC Destined, and Ariel & The Bad Guy, plus classic fights, replays, and there’s also the perk of fewer adverts. 

The UFC 253 card in full:

Israel Adesanya (c) v Paulo Costa – Middleweight

Dominick Reyes v Jan Błachowicz – Light Heavyweight

Kai Kara-France v Brandon Royval – Flyweight

Ketlen Vieira v Sijara Eubanks – Women’s Bantamweight

Hakeem Dawodu v Zubaira Tukhugov – Featherweight


Brad Riddell v Alex da Silva – Lightweight

Diego Sanchez v Jake Matthews – Welterweight

Shane Young v Ľudovít Klein – Featherweight

William Knight v Aleksa Camur – Light Heavyweight


Juan Espino v Jeff Hughes – Heavyweight

Khadis Ibragimov v Danilo Marques – Light Heavyweight

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