Fans of combat sports are going to have plenty to be thrilled about when some impressive fights take place at UFC 253 on Sept. 26.
The fights, which will be available via pay-per-view on ESPN+, will feature two title bouts as the co-main events, and a slew of other interesting matchups between some of the UFC’s top brawlers.
We’ve outlined the fights below, and given our predictions on who is going to pull out the victory in each.
Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa
Odds: Adesanya -162, Costa +135
The middleweight title is on the line when these two former sparring partners turned rivals officially meet in the octagon for the first time in their careers. There’s been plenty of trash talking, boasting and chest beating to lead up to the event, and there is little doubt the intensity is going to match once the fight gets underway. Adesanya is a tactical fighter who is known to study his opponents at length as he develops his fight strategy, while Costa is a close-range bruiser who defeats his opponents by sheer punishment. Both fighters are undefeated, but only one can win. We don’t see this one going the distance, and we’re giving it to Adesanya by a very narrow margin as his tactical ability gives him the edge over a fighter who isn’t going to bring any surprises to the bout.
Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz
Odds: Reyes -250, Blachowicz +200
Although this fight isn’t the true headliner of UFC 253, it’s likely going to be one that is talked about for weeks to come. On the line is the light heavyweight title that is currently vacated, and Reyes will be looking to claim it as his own. Oddsmakers are giving him the edge over Blachowicz, and we agree. Reyes fought for this title once before, taking on former champion Jon Jones at UFC 247 and losing in a close fight by unanimous decision. He’s 12-1 in his MMA career and 6-1 in the UFC. He’s also seven years younger than Blachowicz, who is currently 37. The underdog is no slouch, however. He’s 26-8 in his MMA career and 9-5 in the UFC, and he’s won seven of his last eight fights. It’s likely to be a close fight, but we just think Reyes has the hunger and the drive to turn this fight in his favor, even if it comes down to a decision.
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Odds: Dawodu -112, Tukhugov -112
Fight odds don’t get any closer than this, and we can see why. Dawodu is 11-1-1 in his MMA career and 4-1 in the UFC, though he’s on a four-fight win streak now. Tukhugov is 19-4-1 in his career, and 4-1-1 in the UFC. In his most recent fights, he’s 1-1-1, though he did get a knockout win in his last bout. We see this going in the favor of Dawodu via a knockout, however. He’s been on a hot streak since his last loss in March 2018, and we think it will continue in the featherweight matchup.
Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Royval
Odds: Kara-France -225, Royval +175
These two flyweights should be one of the longer fights of the night as neither fighter really comes in with that knockout power to make it end early. At 21-8-1 in his MMA career and 4-1 in the UFC, Kara-France has the edge of experience over Royval’s 11-4 MMA and 1-0 UFC record. That experience is going to make all the difference as Kara-France takes the win via decision in this one.
Ketlen Vieira vs. Marion Reneau
Odds: Vieira -370, Reneau +273
This women’s bantamweight fight is going to be lopsided, unfortunately. In a fight that was supposed to take place in May but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like Vieira (10-1-0) will be looking to bounce back from the only loss of her career, which came in December 2019 in a knockout loss to Irene Aldana. Reneau (9-6-1) has been on a slide recently, losing her last three fights. We see this one finishing as a unanimous decision in favor of Vieira.
Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Matthews
Odds: Sanchez +375, Matthews -560
Sanchez is the outright favorite in the fight that oddsmakers see as being the most one-sided in the entire lineup of UFC 253. Holding a 31-12-0 record in his career, Sanchez has proven time and time again that he’s a fighter built for the octagon. Matthews may have less experience, but he’s on track to match Sanchez’s record with his current mark of 16-4-0. This welterweight matchup won’t be one that adds a win to Matthews’ resume, however, and we see Sanchez escaping this one with a knockout.
Brad Riddell vs. Alex da Silva
Odds: Riddell -335, da Silva +250
Riddell has all the tools necessary to be one of the top names in MMA fighting in the lightweight division. His opponent, da Silva, does, too. But this bout looks to be in favor of Riddell, who is 8-1-0 in his career. It isn’t going to be some gruesome knockout that wins it, at least not that we can envision. Instead, Riddell is going to have to grind against da Silva, who is 21-2-0, and push this one right to the end before taking it via decision.
Nate Landwehr vs. Shane Young
Odds: Young -190, Landwehr +150
Landwehr heads into only his third fight in the UFC, which he entered earlier this year with a loss to Herbert Burns in his opening fight in January before picking up a unanimous decision in May over UFC veteran Darren Elkins. He’s 14-3 in his career, but his third UFC fight is not going to be one he is just going to dominate. Young, 13-4, is on a two-fight win streak, though he hasn’t competed since February 2019. While the odds board is leaning in favor of Young in this featherweight event, we see it ending differently. Landwehr learned some hard lessons in his first two fights, and he’s much fresher in competition than his foe, which is why we see him taking the win in a hard-fought decision.