Israel Adesanya to defend title against Paolo Costa at UFC 253

The two rivals will finally be able to settle their differences inside the cage - with the middleweight title at stake

It’s official: UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will put his title on the line against bitter rival Paulo Costa. The bout will go down at UFC 251 on September 18th, most likely on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Brazilian outlet Combate broke the news, which was later confirmed by MMA Junkie.

Adesanya took the UFC by storm when debuting in 2018, winning five straight bouts – Including a victory over Anderson Silva. He then faced Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title, winning one of the best fights of 2019 via decision. The Nigerian-born kiwi then challenged Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title, winning via second round KO. In his latest outing, Adesanya made his first title defence against Yoel Romero. The five round fight was quite uneventful, earning both men criticism, though Adesanya would end up winning a judges decision.

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Brazilian bruiser Costa made his UFC debut in 2017, knocking out Gareth McLellan in the first round. Costa then lined up an additional three TKO wins, including finishes over former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, and TUF finalist Uriah Hall. Most recently Costa faced the above mentioned Romero, going the distance with the Cuban wrestler in an exciting three round affair. Costa won the close fight via decision, and would have faced Adesanya for the title had an injury not forced him out.

While not officially confirmed, UFC 253 presumed to take place at Fight Island on September 18th.

UFC 253 preliminary fight card

  • Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa – for middleweight title
  • Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
  • Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane

Who wins the middleweight title: Israel Adesanya or Paulo Costa?

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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for