Israel Adesanya and Paula Costa will make history when the undefeated middleweights collide in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi. Their long-anticipated title clash draws the curtain on the MMA showcase from Fight Island, with the main UFC 253 fight card slated for 10 p.m. ET. The combatants are a combined 32-0 in the Octagon and their matchup marks the first time two undefeated male fighters have met for a UFC title since Rashad Evans lost his light heavyweight crown to Lyoto Machida in 2009. This matchup similarly features an athletically gifted champion in Adesanya taking on a fearless Brazilian striker in the second-ranked Costa.
Adesanya is a -170 favorite (risk $170 to win $100), while Costa is a +150 underdog in the latest Adesanya vs. Costa odds from William Hill. In the co-main event, top-ranked Dominick Reyes (-260) faces Jan Blachowicz, who is getting +220 in the UFC 253 odds, for the vacant light heavyweight title. Before making any UFC 253 picks, make sure you see what SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley has to say, considering the epic run he's on.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every single UFC card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 20 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more almost $20,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has been on a rock-solid run in 2020 as he has connected on 20 of his last 24 main-event selections, a stretch that included a streak of five straight underdogs.
At UFC Fight Night last Saturday, Marley accurately called a decisive victory for Colby Covington (-340) against former champion Tyron Woodley (+280) in the welterweight main event. Anyone who has consistently followed him is way up.
Now, with UFC 253 fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.
Adesanya vs. Costa preview
Adesanya (19-0) has become a polarizing figure based on his combination of substance and bravado. In last year's title fight against Whittaker, his entrance included a choreographed dance routine before a packed arena in Whittaker's hometown of Melbourne, Australia. He proceeded to win the title with a second-round stoppage of the former champion.
The Nigeria-born Adesanya hasn't shied away from his stated goal of facing every top contender the division has to offer. He made good on his word by taking on the dangerous Yoel Romero in March and winning a unanimous decision. The 31-year-old wasted no time in calling out the similarly brash Costa, who sat ringside and readily accepted the fight.
The physically-imposing Brazilian's sculpted physique suggests he could easily compete at heavyweight, but instead he cuts to 185 pounds and harbors perhaps more raw power than the division has ever seen. Costa (13-0) has stopped 11 of his opponents by knockout, and only one of his professional MMA fights has gone to the scorecards.
He went three rounds with Romero last year, unafraid to stand and exchange with an opponent feared for his own devastating knockout power. Costa won a unanimous decision in a wild bout that received Fight of the Year consideration and immediately turned his attention to landing a title fight against Adesanya. You can see Marley's coveted Adesanya vs. Costa picks here.
Top UFC 253 predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC 253 predictions here: He is backing Kai Kara-France (-230) to get a decision victory against Brandon Royval (+195) in a matchup of rising flyweight contenders.
Royval (11-4), ranked No. 10, has shown a polished skill set while climbing the ranks through various promotions. The Englewood, Colo., native landed a UFC contract following back-to-back submissions in the first round in the respected Legacy Fighting Alliance promotion.
The 27-year-old made his UFC debut in May and dispatched of veteran Tim Elliott with a second-round submission. His performance landed him a spot in the rankings, a rarity for a UFC fighter with just one appearance in the promotion.
He faces a major litmus test against the seventh-ranked Kara-France (21-8-1), whose UFC resume includes four wins in five fights while facing an array of fellow prospects. The New Zealand native suffered his first UFC loss against Brandon Moreno in December of last year, but bounced back with a decision win over the dangerous Tyson Nam in February.
"Royval is going to look to get this fight to the mat and, if he can, he could lock up a submission," Marley told SportsLine. "However, it's hard to see him winning two rounds."
How to make UFC 253 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Adesanya vs. Costa and every other bout on the UFC 253 card. He is also backing a "dangerous striker" to cruise to a decision win. Those selections are only available here.
Who wins Adesanya vs. Costa? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 253, all from the incomparable expert who's up almost $20,000 on MMA in the past 20 months and nailed 20 of the last 24 main events, and find out.
UFC 253 odds (via William Hill)
Israel Adesanya (-170) vs. Paulo Costa (+150)
Dominick Reyes (-260) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+220)
Kai Kara-France (-230) vs. Brandon Royval (+195)
Ketlen Vieira (-170) vs. Sijara Eubanks (+150)
Zubaira Tukhugov (-115) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (-105)
Brad Riddell (-320) vs. Alex Da Silva (+260)
Jake Matthews (-700) vs. Diego Sanchez (+500)
Shane Young (-140) vs. L'udovít Klein (+120)
Aleksa Camur (-175) vs. William Knight (+155)
Juan Espino (-300) vs. Jeff Hughes (+250)
Khadis Ibragimov (-175) vs. Danilo Marques (+155)