UFC kicks off its second run on UFC FIGHT ISLAND with one of the biggest events of the year, as middleweight champion Israel Adesanya looks to defend his title against fellow undefeated knockout artist and No. 2 ranked contender Paulo Costa. In the co-main event, the vacant UFC light heavyweight title is on the line as No. 1 ranked Dominick Reyes takes on No. 3 Jan Blachowicz.
UFC 253: ADESANYA vs. COSTA will take place Saturday, September 26 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island and will stream live on Pay-Per-View, exclusively through ESPN+ in the U.S. at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT in both English and Spanish. The prelims will be simulcast on ESPN2 and ESPN+ (English and Spanish) beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT with the early prelims kicking off at 6:30 p.m. ET /3:30 p.m. PT simulcast on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ and on UFC Fight Pass. The event will be closed to the public and will be produced with only essential personnel in attendance.
Adesanya (19-0, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) has quickly become one of the top superstars in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2018. After securing impressive wins over Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva, Adesanya defeated Kelvin Gastelum in one of the best fights of the year for the interim UFC middleweight championship. He followed up this performance by finishing Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title in front of a record-breaking crowd of over 57,000 fans. Now, Adesanya looks to put on another vintage performance and become the first person to defeat Costa.
Brazilian powerhouse Costa (13-0, fighting out of Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil) intends to make the most of his first UFC title shot by landing another signature knockout. Costa developed his reputation as one of the most devastating finishers in the middleweight division by stopping all but one of his wins before the final bell, including victories over Uriah Hall, Johny Hendricks and Garreth McLellan. Now, he plans to dethrone Adesanya and begin his reign as undisputed champion.
Reyes (12-1, fighting out of Victorville, Calif.) aims to make good on his second shot at UFC gold and prove that he is the best light heavyweight on the planet. A devastating finisher with nine first-round stoppages, Reyes quickly rose through the ranks with wins over Jared Cannonier, Ovince Saint Preux and former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Now, he seeks to leave no doubt about his claim to the 205-pound throne by securing another vintage victory against Blachowicz.
Blachowicz (26-8, fighting out of Warsaw, Poland) is among the most successful UFC athletes to hail from Poland and has his sights set on becoming the first male Polish champion. Blachowicz believes his momentum is at an all-time high following three of the biggest wins of his career that include stoppages over former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, as well as perennial top contender Corey Anderson. He now looks to finally attain a UFC championship by becoming the only person to ever finish Reyes.
Additional bouts on the card include:
Top 10 flyweights collide as No. 7 Kai Kara France (21-8 1 NC, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) and No. 10 Brandon Royval (11-4, fighting out of Lakewood, Colo.) look to steal the show
No. 7 ranked women’s bantamweight contender Kelten Vieira (10-1, fighting out of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil) intends to get back to her winning ways when she takes on No. 13 Sijara Eubanks (7-4, fighting out of Toms River, N.J.)
Top featherweight prospects lock horns as Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1, fighting out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada) battles Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1, fighting out of Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia)
Brad Riddell (8-1, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) and Alex da Silva (21-2, fighting out of Balneario, Santa Catarina, Brazil) intend to make a statement in a clash of lightweight finishers
UFC Hall of Famer Diego Sanchez (32-12, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) intends to secure another historic win when he meets tough Jake Matthews (15-4, fighting out of Epping, Victoria, Australia)
Dana White’s Contender Series light heavyweight signees William Knight (8-1, fighting out of Vernon, Conn.) and Aleksa Camur (6-0, fighting out of Broadview Heights, Ohio) seek to establish themselves as the next top prospect in the division
The Ultimate Fighter season 28 winner Juan Espino (10-1, fighting out of Gran Canaria, Spain) returns to the Octagon to take on Jeff Hughes (10-3, fighting out of Norton, Ohio)
Hard-hitting light heavyweight Khadis Ibragimov (8-2, fighting out of Ratlub, Republic of Dagestan, Russia) welcomes UFC newcomer Danilo Marques (9-2, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) to the Octagon
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