The UFC sets sail for Abu Dhabi for UFC 253 this Saturday, September 26th, from Fight Island. Both UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles are up for grabs, as Israel Adesanya takes on Paulo Costa and Jan Blachowicz challenges Dominick Reyes for the vacant LHW belt. Follow along as we give the betting odds for and break down each of the main card matchups of UFC253, and give our picks and predictions for how we see each of those fights going down!
Hakeem Dawodu(11-1-1) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1)
Bovada Odds as of 9/20/20: Dawodu (-105), Tukhugov (-125)
First up on the main card is Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov. Dawodu made his way to the UFC by way of an 8 fight unbeaten streak with the World Series of Fighting. He lost his debut with the UFC, but has won his last 4. Tukhugov, with the UFC since 2014, served a 2 year USADA suspension and made his return late last year. Tukhugov is coming off of a phenomenal first-round TKO over Kevin Aguilar back in February, and he enters this fight the slight betting favorite.
Our pick: Dawodu, decision
Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs. Sijara Eubanks (7-4)
Bovada Odds as of 9/20/20: Vieira (-190), Eubanks (+155)
Next up on the main card is Brazil’s Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks. Vieira’s professional career dates back to 2014, and she is coming off of her very first loss to Irene Aldana at UFC 245 back in December of last year. Vieira is a strong grappler with both judo and BJJ black belts, and she’s a Brazilian national wrestling champion. Eubanks will be making her 7th walk to the Octagon by way of Invicta FC. She’s 4-2 with the UFC, and get this: all 6 of her UFC fights have gone the distance, and all but 2 of her professional fights have as well.
Our pick: Vieira, decision
Kai Kara-France (21-8-0, 1NC) vs. Brandon Royval (11-4)
Bovada Odds as of 9/20/20: Kara-France (-230), Royval (+180)
Up next is Kai Kara-France taking on Brandon “Raw Dawg” Royval. Kara-France is making his 6th UFC appearance, and he’s 4-1 in the UFC. This will be Kara-France’s first fight since the lockdown, and he’s coming off of a decision win over Tyson Nam back in February. In comparing wins and losses, Kara-France is 21-8, with the majority of those losses coming early in his career; after starting 7-6, he’s gone on a 14-2 run! Brandon Royval is making just his 2nd UFC appearance after a second-round submission win over Tim Elliot in his debut back in May.
Our pick: Kara-France, decision
Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs. Jan Błachowicz (26-8)
Bovada Odds as of 9/20/20: Reyes (-285), Blachowicz (+225)
In the co-main event, Dominick Reyes will be taking on Jan Blachowicz for the UFC Light Heavyweight title recently vacated by long-time champion Jon Jones. Reyes is coming off of his shot at dethroning Jon Jones, losing that one by decision at UFC 247 back in February. That was, however, Reyes’ first and only professional loss, and before that fight Reyes was on a 6-fight UFC win streak with victories over Jared Cannonier, Ovince St. Preux, Volkan Oezdemir and Chris Weidman. Blachowicz will be getting his first crack at UFC gold Saturday night. He’s been with the UFC since 2014, compiling a record of 9-5. Blachowicz has been stellar as of late, winning 7 of his last 8, and he’s on a 3-fight win streak besting Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza and Corey Anderson.
Our pick: Blachowicz, decision
Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs. Paulo Costa (13-0)
Bovada Odds as of 9/20/20: Adesanya (-170), Costa (+140)
In the main event, Israel Adesanya makes his second defense of the UFC Middleweight title – this time, against fellow undefeated phenom Paulo Costa. Adesanya is 19-0, with UFC wins over Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva. After winning arguably the greatest Middleweight fight of all time against Kelvin Gastelum, Adesanya then defeated Robert Whittaker for the title, and first defended it in an absolute snoozefest against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 back in March. Paulo Costa will be making just his 6th walk to the Octagon. However, in a thin and aging UFC Middleweight division, the undefeated Brazilian found himself on a collision course with Adesanya. Costa is, at least, an exciting fighter, who’s finished each of his opponents save his last, which was a Fight of the Night unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 241 back in August of 2019.
Our pick: Adesanya, 3rd-round KO/TKO
In episode 6 of the Fight Sport Focus podcast, hosts Jeffery Hoffmann and Nicholas Sherlock will be joined by Jewel Scott to discuss UFC 253. Tune in soon and give it a listen!
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Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @fightsportfocus. Also, subscribe to the Fight Sport Focus podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!