UFC 253 Preview
When reports first leaked of Dana White’s idea to fly fighters out to a private island to put on fights in an enclosed environment, no one could have ever imagined it would actually work.
Over five months later, UFC is still going strong in spite of a handful of fighters testing positive for COVID-19. Now that UFC 253 is upon us, it’s time to preview some of the action.
Match 1: Featherweight Division
Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs. Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1)
While both men come into the bout at 5-foot-8-inches and 145 pounds, Dawodu owns a considerable five-and-a-half-inch reach advantage over Tukhugov. But since he has not fought since November, ring rust is a real threat to Dawodu’s chances to win this fight.
More importantly, Dawodu lands more than double the amount of significant strikes per minute compared to Tukhugov.
However, Tukhugov does have some power behind him when he does land his strikes. Tukhgov’s last fight was late in February, which turned out to be a first-round knockout win.
Dawodu has the cerebral ability to win this fight with multiple strikes, but Tukhugov just needs one punch to land, which makes this an electric fight.
Match 2: Women’s Bantamweight Division
Keitlen Vieira (10-1-0) vs. Sijara Eubanks (7-4-0)
The next fight slated on the card between Viera and Eubanks will be one of the more competitive matches on the main card. Vieira will utilize her four-inch height advantage, but she’s also coming off a first-round knockout loss in December.
Meanwhile, Eubanks is coming off of two straight wins and has experience fighting without fans around, so it’ll be interesting to see how Vieira handles the strange environment.
Match 3: Flyweight Division
Kai Kara-France (21-8-0) vs. Brandon Royval (11-4-0)
In this flyweight bout, both Kara-France and Royval are coming off of solid wins, but Royval last fought in May whereas Kara-France last fought in February. Royval’s going to try to take this fight to the ground and get Kara-France to submit, but that’s going to be a tall task.
Kara-France lands about 5.27 significant strikes per minute, which dominates Royval’s 1.93 significant strikes landed per minute.
Royval cannot leave this up to the judges, so he will be more willing to take more chances to take Kara-France down, which could lead to some offensive fireworks.
Match 4: Men’s Lightweight Division
Dominick Reyes (12-1-0) vs. Jan Blachowicz (26-8-0)
Two massive opponents face off as the 6-foot-4 inch, 205-pound Reyes takes on the 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound Blachowicz, who is on a roll after winning his last three fights. On the other hand, Reyes’ last fight was a loss against Jon Jones for the lightweight championship in February.
Reyes will have to prove his status as a contender for the lightweight belt, and a win against Blachowicz could vault him to the top of the contenders list, but that won’t be easy. Blachowicz succeeds in about half of his takedown attempts, but expect this fight to go the full five rounds.
Both competitors are nearly identical in the measurements, but Reyes’ bigger frame will make it difficult for Blachowicz to take down.
Main Event: Middleweight Championship Match
Israel Adesanya (c) (19-0-0) vs. Paulo Costa (13-0-0)
One of the most anticipated matches of the year, Adesanya looks to protect his title reign as he takes on a motivated challenger in Costa. Both men are at their athletic peaks and these two will be slugging it out in the middle of the mat, but it is nearly impossible to call who will win.
Adesanya has a 3-inch height advantage and an 8-inch reach advantage over Costa, but Costa lands more than eight significant strikes per minute while Adesanya lands a tick below four per minute.
When you add in the fact that neither fighter has attempted a takedown in the ring, this main event is shaping up to be a legendary main event.
Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.