The UFC is back in Fight Island to have middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Paulo Costa settle matters in the main event of UFC 253.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his belt against Brazilian challenger Paulo Costas in a rivalry that has some bad blood, as the weigh-ins once again demonstrated.
Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the card.
KHADIS IBRAGIMOV (8-3-0) VS. DANILO MARQUES (9-2-0)
Andrews: A good light heavyweight bout to start things off. Ibragimov needs a win badly but at 6-3, his opponent towers over him and is a finisher. Despite Marques lack of octagon experience, I think he gets the win.
Andrews Prediction: Danilo Marques via TKO
JUAN ESPINO (9-1-0) VS. JEFF HUGHES (10-3-0, 1NC)
Andrews: Espino is 39 years old young, while Hughes is 32 and winless in three fights. Espino muscles the fight to the ground and gets the tap.
Andrews Prediction: Juan Espino via submission
WILLIAM KNIGHT (8-1-0) VS. ALESKA CAMUR (6-0-0)
Andrews: This is a good fight for Knight, who has Dana White’s attention. I don’t know if he can do what he did on the contenders series in the octagon, especially against a quality opponent like Camur. But I am going with the hot hand.
Andrews Prediction: William Knight via TKO
SHANE YOUNG (13-4-0) VS. LUDOVIT KLEIN (16-2-0)
Andrews: Young is welcoming Klein into the octagon. Klein has an impressive record with only one fight going to a decision. But I have to go with octagon experience and Young has a good helping of it.
Andrews Prediction: Shane Young via UD
DIEGO SANCHEZ (30-12-0) VS. JAKE MATTHEWS (16-4-0)
Andrews: Sanchez was losing his last bout badly but still is good enough to give a prospect like Matthews some trouble. But I think Matthews is disciplined enough to keep it technical and keep the hero worship to a minimum.
Andrews Prediction: Jake Matthews via UD
BRAD RIDDELL (8-1-0) VS. ALEX DA SILVA (21-2-0)
Andrews: Da Silva has an impressive finishing record but got the decision in his debut bout in the octagon. The UFC is another level, but I think he can stifle Riddell, who is a good challenge.
Andrews Prediction: Alex Da Silva via UD
MAIN CARD (8PM ET/5PM PT)
HAKEEM DAWODU (11-1-1) VS. ZUBAIRA TUKHUGOV (19-4-1)
Andrews: I am pulling for the Canadian, but I think Zubaira takes this one via decision.
Andrews Prediction: Zubaira Tukhugov via UD
#7 KETLEN VIERA (10-1-0) VS. #15 SIJARA EUBANKS (6-4-0)
Andrews: Viera has fought more powerful fighters before and won, but Sijara is streaking right now. I could see Sijaea overpowering her, but I have to go with the gameplan that Ketlen’s team should have.
Andrews Prediction: Ketlen Viera via UD
#7 KAI KARA-FRANCE (21-8-0, 1NC) VS. BRANDON ROYVAL (11-4-0)
Andrews: I usually go with Kai but I think Brandon can win the fight on the feet and on the ground. More ways to win with Brandon.
Andrews Prediction: Brandon Royval via submission
#1 DOMINIC REYES (12-1-0) VS. #3 JAN BLACHOWICZ (26-8-0)
Andrews: The technical striking of Reyes should be able to neutralize the power of Blachowicz, who needs to make this fight dirty and pressure Reyes so that he is uncomfortable. But Reyes arguably beat Jon Jones so its hard not favour him.
Andrews Prediction: Dominic Reyes via UD
ISRAEL ADESANYA (19-0-0) VS. PAULO COSTA (13-0-0)
Andrews: I can see Costa wearing down Adesanya and taking it to the ground, but I have to go with Stylebender channeling vintage Anderson Silva to overcome the challenger.
Andrews Prediction: Israel Adesanya via UD