Welcome to our coverage of UFC 253 from Yas Island headlined by UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defending against fellow undefeated fighter Paulo Costa.
Our UFC 253 POST Show will stream LIVE immediately after the main card on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel with Phil Chertok and I reviewing the card. We will also take phone calls for those logged into the POST Discord Channel.
*Israel Adesanya def. Paulo Costa by TKO at 3:59 of Round 2 to retain the UFC middleweight title
*Jan Blachowicz def. Dominick Reyes by TKO at 4:36 of Round 2 to win the vacant UFC light heavyweight title
*Brandon Royval def. Kai Kara-France by guillotine at 0:48 of Round 2
*Ketlen Vieira def. Sijara Eubanks by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Hakeem Dawodu def. Zubaira Tukhugov by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
*Brad Riddell def. Alex Da Silva by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Jake Matthews def. Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
*Ludovit Klein def. Shane Young by KO at 1:16 of Round 1
*William Knight def. Aleksa Camur by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Juan Espino def. Jeff Hughes by arm-triangle at 3:48 of Round 1
*Danilo Marques def. Khadis Ibragimov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
KHADIS IBRAGIMOV (8-3, 206, -185) VS DANILO MARQUES (9-2, 206, +165) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
R1: Marquez got better positions with the key being the takedown and back control to end the round. Ibragimov landed several strikes for his lone highlight of the round. 10-9 Marquez
R2: The second round was not eventful in the slightest. Ibragimov began to throw resulting in a takedown for Marquez, who took the back for the rest of the round. Marquez had control but did little with it, but clearly won the round. 10-9 Marquez
R3: This fight was awful and it continued in the third round. Ibragimov was warned a thousand times about grabbing the fence and continued to do it. Ibragimov reversed to get on top and landed several shots before blowing the position and Marquez ended the round with his back. 10-9 Ibragimov and 29-28 Marquez
WINNER: Danilo Marquez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
It was a terrible fight to start the card and almost assuredly Ibragimov won’t be returning as he falls to 0-4 since entering the UFC. Marquez had not fought since February 2018, which is an eternity in this sport. The highlight of the fight was Jon Anik and Paul Felder sharing sleeping patterns for fighters on the card adjusting to the time difference. By the third round, the announcers knew this fight was terrible and didn’t hide it. NEXT!
JEFF HUGHES (10-3, 1 NC, 258, +250) VS JUAN ESPINO (9-1, 255, -300) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Espino was attempting for the takedown and if the first fight wasn’t enough, Hughes was warned about grabbing the fence. Espino got Hughes into side control before taking back. Later in the round, Espino slammed him down, got to the mount position, and applied a scarf hold submission forcing Hughes to tap.
WINNER: Juan Espino by submission (arm-triangle) at 3:48 of Round 1
This was a great-looking submission from Espino, who turns 40 in two weeks. Espino won the Ultimate Fighter in November 2018 but hasn’t fought since winning the UFC contract almost two years ago. Hughes falls to 0-3 in the UFC after winning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. Espino put himself in a good spot for a potential bonus with the submission.
WILLIAM KNIGHT (8-1, 205, +135) VS ALEKSA CAMUR (6-0, 206, -155) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
R1: The first round was largely a battle for clinch control against the fence until the final minute after they were separated. Knight leaped with a kick and threw a combination, which was likely the difference in a round with such minimal action. 10-9 Knight
R2: This was a big round for Knight, who utilized his power for multiple takedowns. In the closing minute, he made his way to the mount position and nearly ended the fight with a key lock that looked brutal for Camur. Knight also landed some big strikes from his advantageous positions. 10-8 Knight
R3: In the third, Knight repeatedly powered his way to more takedowns, but he slowed down from the second round. Knight briefly flattened Camur near the end. 10-9 Knight and 30-26 overall
WINNER: William Knight by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Knight had a great performance and has impressive power that he used effectively to dictate where the fight went. Knight just fought on September 1st on Dana White’s Contender Series and returned quickly for this fight. Knight wants to fight on the same November 28th card where his training partner Parker Porter is fighting. It was the first loss of Camur’s career.
SHANE YOUNG (13-4, 146, +115) VS LUDOVIT KLEIN (16-2, 150*, -135) – CATCHWEIGHT
Klein used his jab to set up his left head kick that rocked Young. Klein followed with strikes including a clean uppercut that floored Klein, who ate another shot before it was over. Impressive showing from Klein and a frightening sequence to halt the action.
WINNER: Ludovit Klein by KO at 1:16 of Round 1
Klein was making his UFC debut and rode a seven-fight winning streak into this fight. He also missed weight by four pounds, which is worth noting and will likely cost him the bonus.
The fight-ending sequence was very impressive and great for his highlight reel. Young was the first of the four City Kickboxing teammates fighting on this card, so gets the night off to a rough start.
DIEGO SANCHEZ (30-12, 170, +500) VS JAKE MATTHEWS (16-4, 170, -700) – WELTERWEIGHT
R1: It was a big round for Matthews connecting with his right hand at a high pace that Sanchez struggled to deal with. Matthews entered with a right uppercut and then mixed in left jabs. Sanchez tried to rush in and offset Matthews. The round ended with a takedown by Matthews and several big strikes on top. 10-9 Matthews
R2: Matthews was more selective with his strikes at the start of the round but it picked up. Sanchez continually walked into strikes and Matthews was accurate when he threw. It was a round of Matthews piling up numbers and an easy round for him again. 10-9 Matthews
R3: Matthews stunned and dropped Sanchez with a right hand while opening up a cut over Sanchez’s right eye. Matthews was aggressive in half-guard while Sanchez tried to get the arm unsuccessfully. Matthews ended the round with heavy hammer fists to put the exclamation point on the fight. 10-8 and 30-26 Matthews
WINNER: Jake Matthews by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
Matthews was in disbelief that he beat Diego Sanchez. He said he was eleven years old watching Sanchez win TUF (he was actually ten). Matthews was never threatened in this fight and it was a dominant win for him. Since returning to welterweight, Matthews has gone 6-1 and this was his third consecutive victory. It is going to begin the discussion of what is left for Sanchez, who was outclassed in this fight.
BRAD RIDDELL (8-1, 156, -320) VS ALEX DA SILVA (21-2, 156, +260) – LIGHTWEIGHT
R1: Da Silva showcased his hands early with a combination and then scored the takedown. Da Silva controlled Riddell’s back before Riddell broke free. Da Silva attempted a guillotine in the closing minute of the round. 10-9 Da Silva
R2: This was a much better round for Riddell. He cut the distance and started landing with short uppercuts and that opened his strikes, which controlled the round. Riddell got his first takedown of the fight and evened it up on my card. 10-9 Riddell
R3: Riddell fought a fantastic round with a right hand over the top and followed with a left hook. The controversy of the round occurred when Da Silva claimed an eye poke and replay confirmed it was a punch by Riddell that caused the right eye to swell. Riddell unloaded with strikes down the stretch and completed the comeback after losing the first round. 10-9 and 29-28 Riddell
WINNER: Brad Riddell by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a great fight and the most competitive so far on the show. Riddell showed tremendous resilience after dropping the first round. His striking and conditioning were the difference in the second and third rounds. This was Riddell’s sixth straight win and improves to 3-0 in the UFC.
HAKEEM DAWODU (11-1-1, 145, +115) VS ZUBAIRA TUKHUGOV (19-4-1, 150*, -135) – CATCHWEIGHT
R1: In the first round, both were reserved and respectful of the other. Tukhugov started to land with several left hands he threw. Tukhugov started to feint and throw, which worked several times. Tukhugov did enough to win the round but both were tentative. 10-9 Tukhugov
R2: This was a really close round but both were throwing a lot more. Dawodu went to the body and threw leg kicks, each had their moments with their hands. Tukhugov got the takedown and controlled Dawodu for the final minute. Very close. 10-9 Tukhugov
R3: The third round was Dawodu’s round as he connected with a solid left hook and attacked the legs. Dawodu defended the takedown attempts and started yelling at Tukhugov to stop running and was warned about cussing by the referee. 10-9 Dawodu and 29-28 Tukhugov
WINNER: Hakeem Dawodu by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
This was a real technical fight and the biggest win of Dawodu’s UFC career as he wins his fifth in a row after losing his UFC debut. Dawodu criticized Tukhugov for running throughout the fight. Tukhugov also missed weight by four points on Friday.
KETLEN VIEIRA (10-1, 136, –190) VS SIJARA EUBANKS (6-4, 136, +170) – BANTAMWEIGHT
R1: The two were just swinging in the early going. As Vieira got comfortable, she started to have more success going to the body and keeping Eubanks away with jabs. Vieira ended the round with a combination and a takedown to seal it. 10-9 Vieira
R2: Vieira followed what worked in the first round completing the takedown and placing Eubanks near the fence. Eubanks received a gift when referee Jason Herzog stood them up. Vieira landed at distance and took the second round. 10-9 Vieira
R3: Eubanks had her most effective round in the third connecting with a left hook and a right head kick. The striking throughout the round was close. In the end, Eubanks had her back standing and ended up on top with several shots to close the fight. 10-9 Eubanks and 29-28 Vieira
WINNER: Ketlen Vieira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Vieira had four fights fall apart this year and this was her first fight since last December and second since March 2018. Vieira was close to a title fight before the loss to Irena Aldana last year, so this gets her back on track but will still need at least one more win before she’s back in that conversation. Eubanks had just fought on September 12th, so this was a rapid turnaround. The loss ends Eubank’s two-fight win streak she had coming into the fight.
KAI KARA-FRANCE (21-8, 1 NC, 126, -220) VS BRANDON ROYVAL (11-4, 126, +185) – FLYWEIGHT
R1: This was one of the better rounds this year highlighted immediately by France cracking Royval with a right hand and Royval coming back with a spinning elbow that landed flush. Royval went to the ground attempting a gogoplata. On their feet, Royval was landing with amazing accuracy and a relentless pace. Royval rocked him with a knee strike near the end. 10-9 Royval
R2: In the second, Royval was lifted for a slam and he turned it into a guillotine bringing France down to the mat and it was tight forcing the submission.
WINNER: Brandon Royval by guillotine at 0:48 of Round 2
Excellent fight and the best of the night with one of the best rounds that 2020 has produced. It is Royval’s second win in the UFC after submitting Tim Elliott in his debut this past May. Kara-France falls to 4-2 in the UFC and City Kickboxing is 1-2 tonight ahead of Israel Adesanya’s fight in the main event. This is the fight to seek out if you didn’t see the show.
DOMINICK REYES (12-1, 205, -260) VS JAN BLACHOWICZ (26-8, 205, +220) – UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
R1: Each was tentative throughout the round but had some success. Reyes used his left hand early and was throwing kicks. Blachowicz was patient and then landed a brutal kick to the body that instantly bruised the rib area. 10-9 Blachowicz
R2: Blachowicz was fighting great in the second round, kicking at the body and increasing his volume as the round continued. Blachowicz started throwing a flurry, Reyes threw a high kick and it was a left hand that rocked Reyes and sent him down as he was finished with strikes.
WINNER: Jan Blachowicz by TKO at 4:36 of Round 2 to become the UFC light heavyweight champion
This was a great display by Blachowicz, who set the tone in the first round with his patience and effective striking. At 37, Blachowicz becomes the first light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier since 2011.
After the fight, he said “Jon Jones, where are you?” and said he is waiting for Jones.
Blachowicz has won eight of his last nine fights and gave Reyes the most definitive loss of his career after many people felt Reyes beat Jones this past March, even though it was a loss for Reyes.
ISRAEL ADESANYA (19-0, 184, -175) VS PAULO COSTA (13-0, 185, +155) – UFC MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE
R1: Adesanya had a good opening round relying on kicks to the lead leg and body, one kick was a blistering one to the chest of Costa. Costa placed his hands behind his back briefly. 10-9 Adesanya
R2: Adesanya continued his game plan and systematically broke down Costa attacking the lead leg and body. A head kick cut Costa open and then chopped down the legs more. Adesanya slid to connect with a left hand that dropped Costa and Adesanya attacked with hammer fists and other strikes for the stoppage. Amazing performance.
WINNER: Israel Adesanya by TKO at 3:59 of Round 2
This was a dominant performance by Adesanya, who broke down Costa and was never in danger during the time it lasted. Costa could not adjust and the attack to the legs and body were crippling for him as the fight continued.
Adesanya said if Jared Cannonier beats Robert Whittaker then he should be the next title challenger.