Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa middleweight title fight set for UFC 253

    The grudge match between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanyaand unbeaten contender Paulo Costa finally has a date.

    Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will make his second title defense when he meets Costa (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC 253, which takes place Sept. 19, likely on “Fight Island” at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

    MMA Junkie verified both sides have agreed to the details following an initial report from Brazilian news outlet Combate.

    Costa, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA middleweight rankings, will attempt to extend the undefeated start to his MMA career to 20 consecutive fights. After claiming the UFC title from Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October, “The Last Stylebender” registered his first defense against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 in March.

    No. 2-ranked Costa, meanwhile, has not competed since a win of his own against Romero at UFC 241 in August. The Brazilian would have gotten his title shot earlier, but he suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery. He’s been keen to get his hands on Adesanya, though, as he’s verbally attacked the champion to an endless degree for more than a year.

    The latest UFC 253 card now includes:

    • Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa – for middleweight title
    • Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos
    • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
    • Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane

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