Bet of the Card: (2u) Over 2.5 Rounds @ -118 (to Return 3.7 Units)
(0.5u) Jan Blachowicz by Submission or Decision @ +550 (to Return 3.25 Units)
Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz
Co-Main Event UFC Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:45 p.m. EST.
- Dominick Reyes has never been finished and he’s gone to a decision in 3 of his last 4 fights.
- Jan Blachowicz has gone to a decision in 12 of his last 19 fights, and he’s only been finished 3 times in his 34-fight career (per Tapology.com).
The co-main event to go over 2.5 round (2 minutes 31 seconds of round 3) is undoubtably my favorite play of the card.
Both Reyes and Blachowicz are tough as nails and neither yields outrageous fight-ending ability, despite what their combined 32-career stoppage wins might lead you to believe.
Reyes is a volume striker who’s got some decent pop in his punches. In the past, his power and pressure was enough to overwhelm and finish guys, but now that he’s fighting against the best light heavyweights (LHW) in the world, he’s taking a more patient approach to his fights. This has been reflected in 3 of his last 4 fights going the distance, with the inclusion of a contentious split-decision loss to light heavyweight GOAT, Jon Jones (pictured below).
Blachowicz lacks the volume of Reyes, but he makes up for it by implementing his grind-it-out style of fighting. He utilizes his strength and large frame to engage his opponents in the clinch and looks to force them up against the cage and wear on them, landing short shots in close. It’s an effective style for minute winning, and it offers little chance of producing a stoppage, an ideal approach to look for when betting overs. One thing that does concern me with Blachowicz, is his submission skills. He’s not the most elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) artist, but when fights hit the mat with him on top, he certainly can end them. With this being said however, Reyes has a solid 82% takedown defense (per UFCStats.com), and Blachowicz might be warry of pursuing early takedowns due to the potential fatigue of implementing a wrestling-heavy approach in a five rounder.
Stylistically I see this largely playing out as a rangey striking match or as a gritty clinch battle along the cage. Of course, a KO is always on the cards at this level of LHW, but with Reyes never being finished and Blachowicz being as tough as a $2 steak, the over is definitely the way to play this. A second bet I like for this fight is Jan Blachowicz via submission or decision (available at FOXBet and FanDuel). His decision price is a little wide considering this fight could play out extremely close, and it offers us a little hedge should he go after a submission in the opening couple rounds.
Reyes vs. Blachowicz Over 2.5 Rounds @ -118
Blachowicz by Submission or Decision @ +550
(1.5u) Israel Adesanya to Win in Round 4, 5 or by Decision @ +200 (to Return 4.5 Units)
Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa
Main Event UFC Middleweight (185lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 00:30 a.m. EST.
- Israel Adesanya is 19-0 in pro MMA, and he’s gone on to win decisions in 5 of his last 7 bouts.
- Paulo Costa is also undefeated (13-0), and the only time he’s fought against an elite middleweight (MW) contender (Yoel Romero), he went to a decision.
My bet for Saturday’s blockbuster main event is Israel Adesanya to win in either round 4, 5 or by decision.
I like both guys in the main event of Saturday, but almost everything about this fight screams to me that Adesanya is the right side of the line. Costa has the power and durability edge, but with Israel’s (Izzy’s) speed, precision, and movement, I expect him to dance circles around Costa, especially once this gets into round 3 and beyond. It’s worth noting that with this fight being back on Fight Island, the UFC will be using the 30-foot octagon, not the smaller 25-foot cage they have at the APEX (per MMAFighting.com). The reason why I bring this up, is Adesanya will have more room to manoeuvre, a key feature to any elite kickboxer’s game, especially when facing a highly aggressive and constantly advancing opponent, like Costa (pictured below).
Paulo Costa absolutely has ways to win this fight. He could get right in Izzy’s face and knock him out early with one clean shot, or he could match his volume through the first couple rounds and potentially make this a somewhat close fight in the later rounds. If the fight hits the mat, he should have the grappling edge, but I’d be pretty stunned to see this play a defining factor in the fight, given both guys have a clear preference to strike.
All in all, I have to look towards Adesanya as the value side of this fight, even as the near 2-to-1 favorite. His style is perfect for evading lumbering powerhouse strikers and beating them down the stretch with higher volume and machine-like precision. His moneyline is absolutely playable at the current -175 (best odds), but I really like his “to Win in Round 4, 5 or by Decision” prop, available at both FOXBet and FanDuel. He holds the upside to win via KO/TKO at any time in the fight, but with Costa’s durability and aggression, I expect Adesanya to be patient early and really start turning up the heat when Costa starts to fatigue in the second half of the fight. Look for Adesanya to claim a decision victory on Saturday night, but a late KO/TKO wouldn’t surprise me.
(1u) Brandon Royval via Submission @ +700 (to Return 8 Units)
Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Royval
Main Card Flyweight (125lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:15 p.m. EST.
- Brandon Royval has won all of his last 3 fights by way of submission.
- Kai Kara-France has 2 career losses via submission, both coming against committed grapplers who actively chase submission victories.
To wrap up my bets for UFC 253, I’m taking Brandon Royval to win via submission.
This may only be Royval’s second UFC fight, but he’s got a wealth of solid regional experience, and he’s also the former-LFA Flyweight Champion. His pro-record now stands at 11-4 (5-0 as an amateur), with 7 of his wins coming via submission, including an arm triangle choke win in his UFC debut against former-UFC flyweight title challenger, Tim Elliott (pictured below).
Royval is a committed grappler, and although I do think he’ll have some success on the feet, I expect him to stick to his regular game plan of getting fights down to the mat and working for submissions. His takedowns aren’t the cleanest, but whether it be by his doing or not, I see this fight hitting the mat, and when it does, it could only be a matter of time before Royval locks up a sub.
Kai Kara-France’s (KKF) 90% takedown defense looks to be solid at face value, but after seeing that he’s been taken down by Elias Garcia (14% takedown accuracy) and Mark De La Rosa (13% takedown accuracy), then it’s certainly conceivable that Royval will be able to have success with his takedowns (per UFCStats.com).
We’re yet to see much of KKF’s ground game in the UFC, but I expect Royval to have a significant edge there, and for that reason, his sub prop at +700 looks far too high. Take Brandon Royval to win via submission.
Brandon Royval via Submission @ +700
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa / #UFC253
Location & Venue: Flast Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Date: Saturday, September 26th, 2020
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 7 p.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa Main Event Prediction
Middleweight (185lbs): Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa – Adesanya via Decision
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa Main Card Predictions
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Błachowicz – Blachowicz via Decision
Flyweight (125lbs): Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Royval – Royval via Submission
(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Ketlen Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks – Vieira via Decision
Featherweight (145lbs): Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov – Tukhugov via Decision
UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa Prelim Card Predictions
Lightweight (155lbs): Brad Riddell vs. Alex da Silva – Riddell via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Matthews – Matthews via Decision
Featherweight (145lbs): Shane Young vs. Ľudovít Klein – Klein via KO/TKO
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Aleksa Camur vs. William Knight – Camur via KO/TKO
Heavyweight (265lbs): Juan Espino vs. Jeff Hughes – Espino via Submission
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Khadis Ibragimov vs. Danilo Marques – Ibragimov via KO/TKO
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.