Photo: Zuffa LLC
On Saturday, the UFC hosted its first Pay-Per-View event in over a month, in addition to its first return to Fight Island since hosting a four-fight slate in July.
UFC 253 played host to the highly anticipated title fight between Israel “Stylebender” Adesanya and Paulo Costa. The beef between the two has resulted in Costa getting a title shot against fan-favorite Adesanya in the Middleweight division.
This was followed by a Light Heavyweight title fight between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz. Once Jon Jones relinquished his belt, the UFC picked these top contenders to duke it out and see who the new belt holder will be.
Here are my highlights from UFC 253!
Adesanya Dominates in Main Event
The long-awaited main event started exactly how I expected it to. There was no touch of the gloves to start the game, and constant trash talk back and force even after the bout started. There was some real bad blood between the two, which made the fight all the more fun.
This was also only the second time in UFC history that two male fighters competed for a title while both being undefeated.
Adesanya did what he always has done; he used his length to create space and to create distance for his precise strikes. The biggest mistake Costa made was allowing Adesanya to destroy his lead leg with low kicks. By the end of the first round, Costa could barely move on it.
This is where Costa fell behind. He went into the fight with a macho energy, but his poker face ended up killing him. Costa acted like the kicks weren’t affecting him and did not switch up his stance to avoid them. Adesanya rightfully called his bluff and threw heavy kicks to Costa’s lead knee which proved to be a huge component in his win.
The fight went to the second round and Adesanya put Costa away via TKO without any pushback; it was truly the “Stylebender” show. There was no way Costa was winning this fight after the damage Adesanya dealt him in the first round.
Stylebender once again proved that he is the real deal and deserves to have the strap draped over his shoulder.
Lightning Fast Flyweights
The first two fights started out slow with a pair of decisions and not much action. However, this completely changed when Kai Kara France took on Brandon Royval in a Flyweight bout.
The fists were flying right out of the gate and I was convinced this wouldn’t make it out of the first round. The pair exchanged heavy shots with neither one faltering enough to hit the canvas and stay down.
Everything from tight guillotines, spinning elbows, and a nearly illegal knee strike all took place in the first five minutes. The fight did continue on into the second round, however it did not get out of the second. Royval was able to secure a very tight guillotine just as France picked him up and looked for a big slam.
Royval’s hold was just tight enough to cause a tap-out before the slam even came from his opponent. This was Royval’s second UFC victory and he really showcased his ferocious energy inside the Octagon.
A New Light Heavyweight Champion
In a shocking fashion, the new Light Heavyweight champion was crowned in the co-main event. Because Jon Jones relinquished his belt and hinted at a move to Heavyweight, it was up to the UFC to find a new champ.
It took less than two rounds for UFC President Dana White to enter the Octagon and hand out a championship strap.
Blachowicz came out and really worked the body of Reyes. There was actually a huge welt on Reyes’ back from Blachowicz’s super powerful kicks. You could tell Reyes was feeling it and looked really stiff as a result.
This is something Blachowicz realized and talked to his corner about during the break after the first round. It didn’t take much for Blachowicz to make some adjustments and finish Reyes with a huge shot that made him stumble before Blachowicz put him away.
He has big shoes to fill due to Jon Jones’s historic legacy within the division, so we will see how he defends his belt in the future.
The UFC will be back in action next weekend on Fight Island for a bout between former champion Holly Holm and No. 6 Bantamweight contender Irene Aldana.