Undefeated superstars Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa in the highly anticipated headliner of UFC 253 on September 27.
Bragging rights will not be the only thing on the line for the two men, as Costa will also be able to steal Adesanya’s UFC Middleweight Championship with a victory.
The anticipation for this fight has been building for the past two years as each fighter has seen their status grow to become two of the top competitors in the industry.
While there is mutual respect among the two undefeated fighters, they still hold serious animosity towards each other, and that has become evident in their interviews leading up to the bout.
“Me and Costa have been two of the rising forces in the UFC," Adesanya said in an interview with ESPN. "It was going to take a while to build us up as our own entities and then have a superfight, like we are now. Remember when he said he doesn't know who I am? Well, you know who I am now."
While Adesanya may be coming off a lackluster performance against Yoel Romero at UFC 248, he still performed well enough in the fight to retain his championship belt by unanimous decision. The 31-year-old is 19-0 in his professional fighting career and has no discernable weaknesses in his game.
Costa is a powerful striker who uses his size and strength to overwhelm his opponents. The 29-year-old is 13-0 and has 11 victories by way of knockout. His most recent victory also came against Yoel Romero at UFC 241 in a bout that won the Fight of the Night award at the pay-per-view.
The two men have very different styles and physiques, which will surely make their matchup an interesting one. From a physical standpoint, the two men have nearly nothing in common.
Adesanya is skinny and tall, standing 6 feet 4 inches, and is extremely light on his feet. On the other hand, Costa, who stands 6-feet, will look like the incredible hulk when he’s standing face to face with Adesanya on Saturday night.
While many believe the massive size disparity between the two men is one that favors Costa, Adesanya says it will not be nearly as big of a factor as people think.
"Size makes a difference if you know how to use it,” said Adesanya. “But they are always surprised when they step across the cage from me and they realize how long I am. They are always in for a rude awakening. I don't know why people think it's going to be a heavy factor."
UFC President Dana White has gone on record to say that the clash between the two men will be a “Fight of the Year” candidate, and this is one time where it would not be wise to bet against him. It is clear that this bout means more to both of the fighters involved, and there is much more riding on this matchup than the average title fight.
Both fighters will do everything in their power to come out on top at UFC 253. The fight is streaming on ESPN Plus pay-per-view and the main card will begin around 9 PM ET.