UFC Betting Pick: Israel Adesanya vs Paulo Costa

It’s time…

Shout to Bruce Buffer, the Malibu born and Playboy Mansion frequenting voice that we all know and love.

I did prefer Michael Buffer for a little while but Bruce really stepped up his game in the Octagon and added a really fun physical element to a job that was 99% vocal before.

The main event of the evening between Nigerian born Israel Adesanya and Brazil’s Paulo Costa will actually be the morning.

The main card is set to start at 0600 hours local Abu Dhabi time.

That will be the normal 10:00 PM Eastern here in the States.

Both the Brazilian fighters and those coming in from New Zealand had to connect through Las Vegas and fly to Fight Island chartered.

I’m glad they are doing that or the cancellations would likely be much worse.

Israel brought a squad with him but they aren’t there just for support, they’re fighting too!

The Last Stylebender trains out of one of the best gyms in mixed martial arts, City Kickboxing in the Kiwi capital city of Auckland.

There are 3 more fighters from that gym competing on this 11-fight UFC 253 card.

I don’t think I can pick the entire team to win but I think they have a great chance to go 3-1.

Paulo Costa is coming in as more of the focal point of his training camp in Brazil.

By more of the focal point, I mean the center of all of his coaches’ attention.

He has his own gym in his hometown of Contagem in the Amazon Jungle situated halfway between the capital of Brasília and Rio de Janeiro.

Team Borracha as it’s called is closed to the public as a lot of gyms still are in today’s climate but it works out well for the undefeated world title challenger.

He has the place to himself every day and he and his team can practically live there.

I expect both men have had stellar training camps and they are both safe and sound, for the moment, on Fight Island.

That makes me happy because I really want to see this fight.

Let me stop rambling for a second and we can take a look at how some of the measurables match up for these two undefeated fighters.

Israel Adesanya Paulo Costa
Fight Record: 19-0 Fight Record: 13-0
Age: 31 Age: 29
Height: 6’4” Height: 6’1”
Reach: 80” Reach: 72”
From: Lagos, Nigeria From: Contagem, Brazil
Fight Camp: City Kickboxing Fight Camp: Team Borracha

We spoke about the camps. I like both. Of course, Israel’s gym, City Kickboxing, has been more successful overall but he also has 3 teammates fighting on the same card.

Conversely, Paulo is the center of attention or o centro das atenções as they say in Portuguese.

Even though both fighters have unblemished records, I give the experience edge to the champ.

He has been in there with better fighters.

They, of course, share their most recent opponent, Yoel Romero.

It’s hard to take much from either of their fights with the Soldier of God because he is kind of an enigma all his own at this point.

Yoel had a back and forth battle of blitzkriegs with Paulo Costa and a staring match with Izzy.

One thing to take from Paulo’s fight with Yoel was that he did tire in the third which allowed Yoel to not only make it a close fight but nearly finish him.

That pace, though…

These two men were all out in that fight. I will give him a mulligan on the gas tank for that fight.

  • How about that reach, though? 80 to 72?!
  • Is that even correct?
  • How is Paulo such a massive brute with such short arms?

He could be a descendent of a T-Rex…

Ridiculous answer, yes, but the more you watch this savage fight…

Now let’s quantify a few attributes I think are important and use them to help us pick a winner for the main event of UFC 253.

For a full betting guide to the event, click here.

Now, let’s try not to score these attributes too highly for two undefeated fighters.

Big 5 Adesanya Costa
Striking Volume 3.5 4.5
Conditioning 4.0 3.0
Fight IQ 4.0 4.0
Durability 4.0 4.5
Heart/Mental Strength 4.0 4.0

I’m still tweaking these “Big 5” attributes. I know I can do better than these five but I’m so freaking analytical, I had to get something down on paper and go with it for a bit.

That’s the best way to learn, in my opinion, anyway.

Speculation sucks after a while.

I gave them both a 4.0 for heart because I have never really seen either man’s heart tested fully.

They have been in some kinda tough spots but when you’re that dominant, the opportunity to prove your heart doesn’t present itself very often.

Durability is kinda the same thing.

We have seen Israel TKO’ed in GLORY Kickboxing by a Brazilian actually, Alex Perreira.

That’s with big gloves and not many UFC Middleweights hit harder than Borrachinha.

The biggest difference here is the striking volume.

Israel Adesanya lands approximately 4 out of 8 significant strikes per minute while his opponent, Paulo Costa, lands 8.5 out of 15 sig strikes per minute.


That’s nuts. A big part of this is his style. Paulo is a swarmer and some of his opponents shell up and that’s when he unloads punches in bunches.

There’s always a Yin to the Yang, though.

Paulo gets hit nearly 7 times per minute while Adesanya only absorbs 2.4.

Who is going to out-land who on Saturday?

Israel Adesanya (-175) vs Paulo Costa (+150)

Over 2.5 Rounds:
Under 2.5 Rounds:
Fight goes to a decision:
Fight does not go to a decision:

You know, these betting lines had me stumped for a while. I have been just staring at my screen.

You can make a solid argument that there is betting value for both men, actually.

Anytime you’re getting the 19-0 undefeated world champion at less than a 2 to 1 favorite, it seems like a pretty good deal.

The challenger/underdog isn’t a dominant wrestler who is only concerned with control and not damage.

That’s another reason to get behind the (-175).

Izzy is fighting a guy who is going to strike with him.

At the same time, Paulo Costa is (+150).

You only need to win 40% of the time to break even with those odds.

Path to Victory

Israel Adesanya

Footwork footwork and more footwork.

I don’t think he can win this fight with punches, kicks, knees, and elbows alone.

He is out-gunned.

It isn’t advisable, in my opinion, for Israel to stand his ground against the Brazilian.

With that being said, it’s an even worse idea to back straight up.

That’s exactly what Borrachinha wants you to do.

Israel has excellent footwork, though, and pivots off-line after a backward step or two better than any counter striker I’ve ever seen in the UFC.

I think Adesanya can tag Paulo at distance and on the way in. At that point, he can’t get greedy, though.

He should either pivot off or clinch up.

The former is probably the best idea since he will likely be at a strength disadvantage.

I think he can do that for 5 rounds if he has to.

Will he get clipped and put away by the Brazilian, though?

If these two fight 10 times, I think Izzy is going to sleep at least twice.

I think Adesanya wins 6.67 out of 10 or 2 out of every 3 times these two men fight.

That gives us a big edge on the bookies.

We are back in the larger Octagon also which will help the Kiwi tremendously.

Paulo Costa

Even though it may leave him more depleted later in the fight, I think Paulo should rush Israel Adesanya very early on in the fight.

Izzy likes to take time to download his opponent’s info just like Anderson Silva did.

Those guys are susceptible in the first minute or two of the fight.

The longer the contest goes, the more I favor Adesanya.

Costa’s path to victory remains the same, though, no matter the round.

Come forward with big shots.

I don’t think there’s a technical answer to Adesanya’s game or at least one Paulo can answer.

Costa should fight this fight like he fights all of his fights.

Get in his face and go for it!

If you say:

  • Oh, this is a 5 round fight and I’m fighting someone really good so I better pace myself and blah blah.
  • I get it. It’s not the worst advice ever but he would be fighting Adesanya’s style of fight and not his own.

I guess game plans get complicated at the championship level.

Who knew?


If these two fight 10 times, I think Izzy is going to sleep at least twice.

I think Adesanya wins 6.67 out of 10 or 2 out of every 3 times these two men fight.

That gives us a big edge on the bookies and I think we have to take it here.

We are back in the larger Octagon also which will help the Kiwi tremendously.

If Adesanya was above a (-220) or so, I don’t think we would have the edge we do but the severity of Costa’s striking has kept Izzy’s betting odds fairly affordable.

My Pick
Israel Adesanya!

In Conclusion

These two better weigh in successfully!

I have been dying to see this fight for what seems like a year now.

Then I write about it and the excitement goes from there.

If I bet on the fight, I’m gonna get some butterflies.

If caterpillars turn into butterflies, then do butterflies turn into gray hairs in your beard?

Asking for a friend.

Some people bet on sports or gamble in other ways for that rush.

Not me.

I hate it.

This is what I love.

Breaking down the fight, putting the time in, creating something, and seeing your hard work pay off is what it’s about for me.

A win is not only a win for me but for my readers as well and that keeps me motivated to give you guys the best advice I possibly can.

That being said, betting on the main event is not my favorite thing to do.

It’s the last fight of the night and I would like to sit back and enjoy it.

Also, if we pick it wrong then we might go to bed in a poopy mood.

For those of you who want the action, I will do my best to give you the best opportunity to win but most of the picks we make are to make money long term.

Paulo is definitely a live dog and Izzy has great value at (-175).

I’ll take the champ in the large Octagon with the 8-inch reach advantage who I might add also has 5-round experience which the heavily muscled and “sus” cardio Costa does not.

Get your bets in now directly from this article at BetOnline.AG and enjoy the fights at UFC 253!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.