UFC 253 select fight betting breakdown. Adesanya vs Costa

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Without mincing words, this main and co-main event scheduling is great and a solid pay per view card has been created, albeit with the value in the purchase mostly coming from the title fights. We are primed for an absolutely massive main event in which we see the matador in Israel Adesanya try to avoid the bull in Paolo Costa. The co-main will see us crown a new light heavyweight champion, but that fight between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz is a bit more lopsided and less open in terms of the range of outcomes. 

I want to touch on last week’s card briefly. Simply put, we had a bad ass fight night card last week and that momentum should very much carry over to this week as the promotion makes its return to Fight Island, and the full sized octagon. In last week’s final stint at the Apex for a while, we correctly predicted the Colby Covington massacre, and offered the best value from a betting perspective on that fight being Covington ITD +325 for a late attrition based finish, which came to fruition. We bricked on Niko Price via KO, despite him coming close in that first round,  but we won on attacking the ITD line of -300 in the Walker vs Spann fight. Let’s get to the select fights for this week. 

Israel Adesanya -180 vs Paulo Costa

Fight is five rounds at 185 lbs, is -215 to end inside the distance and is for the middleweight championship

This is such an anticipated matchup, matching up two undefeated fighters who combine for a 32-0 mark for the middleweight strap. It is certainly a clash of styles as the champion Israel Adesanya is a long, nearly lanky middleweight that uses his length and precision and works best on the outside. He has run through the entire division en route to claiming undisputed champion status. He will now face a different type of test in Costa, but one not fully dissimilar than the one he faced in Yoel Romero. Costa is a muscular and physical freak like Romero, but he is one that is far, far more active. While Romero fought an entire fight essentially tentative to engage, Costa will not have that tentativeness, and he will have quite the opposite. Costa has no issue, and may actually prefer walking through jabs and strikes to get his own strikes home. He is happy to eat some jabs to rip and tear the body and head, and he does have unsung and overlooked kicks in his arsenal. Costa will look to bull forward and get a finish in this and any matchup, but that finish would almost certainly have to come in the first two rounds. I mentioned the insanely muscular physique of Costa, and is often the case with a physique like this, the cardio will not hold up over five rounds, and may not hold up over three rounds. On the grappling side of things, Costa is not the best wrestler, but if for any reason the fight were to hit the floor, Costa has a BJJ black belt to put to use and he would have a massive advantage in that realm. 

Adesanya is by far the most difficult opponent of Costa’s career, and there isn’t really a parallel to draw from any of his previous opponents. On the Adesanya side, there are some similarities to draw from perhaps his closest fight in the UFC, and that was his fight with Kelvin Gastelum. I am not saying Gastelum and Costa are very similar fighters, but the way the two fights play out will have similarities. Costa, like Gastelum, will not be afraid to engage and also offer a grappling danger that must be accounted for. Similarly to Gastelum in which Adesanya enjoyed a 9” reach advantage, he will have an 8” advantage in this matchup, and will be trying to keep a power striker and superior grappler on the outside at all times. The difference will be where Gastleum offered a low to moderate amount of danger for nearly the duration of the fight, Costa will bring a high amount of danger for the initial two rounds, and if he can’t get the job done in that time, will be essentially no danger in the championship rounds due to the potential/probable gas tank issues of Costa. 

This is truly a very difficult fight to call. I ever so slightly lean to the Adesanya side but not to the level of a -180 favorite. Despite the lean to Adesanya, I see a hint of value on the Costa side if we are looking at flat betting lines. I do not have a strong play on this fight, but if you are wagering on it, be sure to grab the most value available. Adesanya has equal paths to victory in KO or decision, so betting him flat would be the path. On the Costa side, we can pretty safely assume any victory would come via finish and would be taking the ITD line, at a favorable +240. 

Dominick Reyes -285 vs Jan Blachowicz

Fight is five rounds at 205 lbs, is -230 to end inside the distance and is for the vacant light heavyweight championship. 

While the main event is a get your popcorn ready fight, this one has more of a coronation ceremony feel. The first note to make is that a light heavyweight championship fight does not have main event slotting, which is the first time in memory, if ever, for that to be the case. The reason for this is the true lack of star power in this fight. While Dominick Reyes name and notoriety is consistently growing, Jan Blachowicz is far from a star, and from my vantage point, is also far from elite. 

Reyes is coming off a title fight “loss” against former champion Jon Jones, who has vacated the belt for his move to heavyweight. I personally scored that fight 48-47 for Jones, but have absolutely no issue with anyone scoring it for Reyes, as it was absolutely razor thin. I want to note that Jones previous fight against Thiago “Marreta” Santos was one that I scored for Santos, and I will tie how that bit of information fits in in just a bit as it relates to his opponent. 

Reyes is absolutely levels ahead of Jan Blachowicz in terms of striking. Reyes simply outclasses him in all aspects, particularly in the power department. There really are not too many keys for Reyes to walk away victorious in this matchup, but there are a couple areas he will have to mind so as to not put himself in a bad spot. He will have to mind the lead leg and not eat too many calf kicks as he can’t have his movement compromised. He would also be at a disadvantage if he were to find himself in bottom position on the floor, as grappling on the canvas is the one place I would give a true edge to BJJ black belt Blachowicz in this matchup. Reyes will be aware with takedown defense to make sure he keeps the fight upright where he can unload on and ultimately finish Blachowicz. 

On the Blachowicz side, I’ll be quite blunt. He has no business being booked for this fight. Let’s flashback to February 2019, not remotely an eternity ago. Blachowicz was headlining a fight night card against an actual elite light heavyweight, Marreta Santos. That fight saw Marreta knock Blachowicz out in the third round, and it certainly was not a close fight. Since then, Blachowicz has won via KO against the zero chin version of Luke Rockhold, won a five round split decision against a 40 year old middleweight in Jacare Souza and won via KO against now Bellator fighter Corey Anderson. I must ask, what about this body of work screams that a title shot is deserved? Combine this with the fact that Marreta is now back to full health after double knee surgeries and is booked to fight for anything other than the belt. It truly makes little sense. The only conceivable explanation is that the promotion wanted to establish Reyes as their champion and see a post surgery version of Marreta before booking the best fight they could make. 

I also want to address something you’ve no doubt heard already and will hear a dozen more times over the course of the next week. That is Blachowicz liking to talk up his “Polish Power.” Even before knocking out Bellator’s Corey Anderson, and even before his matchup with the shot chin of Luke Rockhold, he liked to pump this narrative. Well, you see, as I check my notes, I would have to go back to the year 2014 for his last KO, and to 2010 for the one before that, prior to his UFC tenure. I truly find it laughable and corny that someone with seven KO’s in 34 career fights (three KO’s in last 20 fights) touts their power.

From lacking main event booking to an undeserving fighter being booked in the matchup, the writing is on the wall for the coronation of Reyes as the light heavyweight champ. The striking and power of Reyes will be too much for Blachowicz to handle, just as it was against Marreta, and the same result is a highly likely one. With the Reyes ITD line of -105 bringing big value versus the flat line of -285, that is without question the best avenue of attack in this fight.

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