UFC

UFC 253: Israel Adesanya v Paulo Costa - the wait is over

By Sports Desk September 26, 2020

Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa will put their 100 per cent records on the line and fight for the UFC middleweight title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Middleweight champion Adesanya had spoken of chasing big-money fights with Jon Jones and even Conor McGregor.

But for now the Nigeria-born New Zealander has a score to settle with Costa and fight fans are undoubtedly relishing the pair mixing it in the Octagon at UFC 253.


WHY THE HYPE?

Because these guys have been on a collision course for some time and only a biceps injury sustained by Costa made the wait so long.

Jibes have been thrown back and forth, with Costa accusing Adesanya of ducking the challenge of former light-heavyweight king Jones.

Adesanya has something to prove after an underwhelming win via unanimous decision against Yoel Romero back in March, and his kick-boxing brilliance and Costa's pressure fighting make this a bout of real intrigue.


GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS

Adesanya became the UFC's interim middleweight champion with a unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a classic in April 2019. He then defeated the legendary Robert Whittaker in October with a stunning knockout to unify the division.

Each of Costa's first four wins in a UFC ring came via way of KO/TKO and in August 2019 he defeated Romero via unanimous decision.


WHAT'S THEIR MMA RECORD (W-L-D)?

Adesanya: 19-0-0

Costa: 13-0-0


TALE OF THE TAPE

Adesanya:

Age: 31
Height: 6'4" (193cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Reach: 80"
Leg reach: 44.5"

Costa:

Age: 29
Height: 6'1" (185cm)
Weight: 185lbs (84kg)
Reach: 72"
Leg reach: 39.5"


WHAT THEY'VE SAID

Adesanya referred to Costa as an "inflated balloon animal" back in June and during his media activities ahead of UFC 253 made a figure out of balloons to impersonate Costa, saying: "Hey guys, my name is Paulo Costa. I'm the Eraser and I'm going to be the champion. Israel, I will erase you." Adesanya then twisted the balloons until they popped…

In controversial comments to Submission Radio in August, Costa said: "I have just one question. Adesanya, why are you freezing when you face Romero? You're not a real champion, man. You don't deserve. I will kill you."


FIGHT STATS IN UFC

Adesanya:

- Adesanya has connected with 503 of his 1,032 attempted significant strikes, a success rate of 49 per cent.

- Of his successful strikes, 88 per cent have come from a standing position.

- On the defensive side, Adesanya has guarded against 87 per cent of takedown attempts.

- He has also seen off 66 per cent of strikes against him.

Costa:

- Costa has landed 307 of his 531 attempted significant strikes, giving him a success rate of 58 per cent.

- As with Adesanya, Costa tends to strike from a standing position - with 82 per cent coming via that method.

- He has successfully blocked 80 per cent of takedown attempts against him.

- Costa has also thwarted 54 per cent of strikes from his opponents.

Related items

  • Goals, Barca joy and Athletic pain - Messi's 'final final' ends just like the rest Goals, Barca joy and Athletic pain - Messi's 'final final' ends just like the rest

    It was all that was missing: a Lionel Messi goal. The rest of Saturday's Copa del Rey final was following a predictable, popular script.

    Barcelona were winning. Athletic Bilbao were losing. Again.

    For the second time this month, for the sixth time in succession, the final was a step too far for poor Athletic.

    No club have won the Copa more times than Barca - this their 31st triumph - but for a long time that was a table topped by the team from Bilbao.

    Athletic sit second on the list, with 23 wins, but none after 1983-84.

    They beat Barca in the 1984 final at the Santiago Bernabeu and there has been nothing but misery for Athletic in their favourite competition ever since.

    April 2021, with two opportunities, was surely the time for that run to end. But first they lost 1-0 to rivals Real Sociedad, and then, on Saturday, 4-0 to Barca. Again.

    The run of six finals without a win is a new record, and four of the defeats have come at the hands of the Blaugrana.

    And Messi had scored in each of the prior three.

     

    Indeed, the Barca legend's very first final goal came against Athletic in 2009.

    Messi played in Samuel Eto'o, saw his shot blocked and ran onto the rebound to put Pep Guardiola's side in front. They had trailed in that match and won 4-1, the first act of a stunning treble complete.

    Three years later, the great number 10 was at it again.

    He took Andres Iniesta's pass in his stride and rammed a right-footed finish into the roof of the net from a tight angle, the second of three Barca goals in the opening 25 minutes. A 3-0 win.

    And then in 2015, perhaps Messi's best final performance of all. He scored twice and the first was one of the great goals.

    The Barca forward took up possession near halfway on the left, invited in three Athletic defenders and then beat them all. Into the box he ran, skipping inside one last challenge before firing in.

    So while losing to Barca - again - felt familiar for Athletic in Seville, keeping Messi at bay heading into the final quarter of the match did not.

     

    Even then, from the fringes, Messi had still had a say in proceedings.

    Following a tense first half in which the best opening saw Frenkie de Jong hit the post from Messi's pass, the Argentina international found his Netherlands counterpart again 15 minutes after the restart.

    De Jong crossed and Antoine Griezmann, earlier denied from a similar position by the briefly inspired Unai Simon, made no mistake.

    The second goal came from the other side. Jordi Alba crossed and Messi moved towards the ball, but it instead reached De Jong in the centre, stooping to nod into the net.

    Messi had entered the match with 29 goals in 33 finals. His Copa record stood at seven in nine. With Athletic now all at sea, there was time left to boost those fantastic figures further.

    Within five minutes of De Jong's header the chance came. Messi calmly controlled inside the area, created a yard of space and picked out the bottom-left corner with a gentle effort.

    It was certainly a prettier goal than his next as Alba's cutback was sent goalwards and Simon, finally reading the script again, let Barca's fourth and Messi's second slip through his fingers - much like Athletic's hopes. Again.

    Having helped their captain to a pair of goals to go away with, Barca's players made sure to secure souvenirs of their own as Messi posed for pictures with each of them alongside the Copa.

    There is still a title to fight for in LaLiga before his contract expires at the end of the season and the rumour mill reopens for business, but this might have been Messi's last Barca showpiece.

    On the periphery for over an hour, he wound up with a game-high six shots, three on target and two goals. If this was the end, Messi's final final, it was a fitting finish.

  • Flick leaving Bayern: A record win rate and a trophy every 14 games - the key numbers behind departing coach's tenure Flick leaving Bayern: A record win rate and a trophy every 14 games - the key numbers behind departing coach's tenure

    Hansi Flick announced on Saturday that he intends to step down as Bayern Munich boss at the end of the campaign, bringing an end to an illustrious spell in charge of the club.

    The 56-year-old succeeded Niko Kovac in November 2019, having previously worked as assistant, and has led the German giants to six major trophies in that time.

    Bayern won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2019-20 and have followed that up with the DFL-Supercup, UEFA Supercup and Club World Cup this season.

    Another Bundesliga crown could follow with Bayern seven points clear at the top with five games to go, which would be a fitting way to bring down the curtain on Flick's tenure.

    Using Opta data, we look at the extraordinary numbers behind Flick's spell in charge and the players who have played a key part in Bayern's recent success.


    AS MANY TROPHIES AS DEFEATS

    Flick's shock revelation that he hopes to have his contract terminated came on the back of Bayern's 3-2 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

    That was the German's 81st game in charge in all competitions, comprised of 67 victories, eight draws and six losses.

    Incredibly, that means Flick has won as many trophies - six - as he has suffered defeats in his 17-month tenure. That also equates to one trophy every 14 matches.

    NUMEROUS RECORDS SET

    Bayern were as dominant as any club in European history en route to winning a treble last season, form that they would carry into the 2020-21 campaign.

    The Bavarian giants won 23 matches in a row in all competitions between February 16, 2020 and September 18 that year - a record in German professional football.

    With their victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the final, meanwhile, they became the first side in European/Champions League history to lift the trophy with a 100-per-cent win record.


    BUT FLICK TRAILS GUARDIOLA

    Flick's 83-per-cent win rate is another record among Bayern bosses, as is the average of 3.0 goals per game his side have scored under his watch.

    However, the former Germany assistant trails one of his predecessors in Pep Guardiola when it comes to points per game accrued in the Bundesliga.

    Guardiola collected 2.52 points per game across his 102 matches, whereas Flick is currently on 2.49 after 53 matches, though that could change before he eventually departs.

    LEWA LEADS THE WAY

    In the Bundesliga alone, Manuel Neuer has played more games for Bayern (52) than anyone else since Flick initially took charge on an interim basis on November 3, 2019.

    Thomas Muller and David Alaba, the latter of whom will also depart the Allianz Arena in June, are next on the list with 50 league appearances.

    Robert Lewandowski is next with 46 outings and the striker has been Bayern's top performer over that period in terms of goal involvements.

    The Poland international has a combined 65 goals and assists, followed by Muller with 52 and Serge Gnabry with 27.

    Lewandowski has 55 Bundesliga goals in total under Flick, while Muller leads the assists metric with 34, 20 more than next-best Joshua Kimmich.

  • Tuchel's Chelsea quell quadruple talk as Man City meet their match Tuchel's Chelsea quell quadruple talk as Man City meet their match

    Meetings with Chelsea have provided Manchester City with a measuring stick over the past 12 months.

    In June 2020, at Stamford Bridge, City's 2-1 defeat handed the Premier League title to Liverpool, ending Pep Guardiola's two-season stay at the summit.

    When City then returned to the same stadium in January, facing Chelsea for the first time in 2020-21, they rediscovered their mojo.

    It was the fourth match in a sequence of 21 straight wins in all competitions and arguably the pick of the bunch.

    Slick City, missing a host of stars due to COVID-19, swept Chelsea aside in a 3-1 win as Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne all scored. They left London in fifth but firmly back on track.

    It has since looked as though that might be a defining display in a historic quadruple achievement. City, like Chelsea, reached the Champions League semi-finals this week. They are already clear at the top of the league table and have an EFL Cup final Wembley date with Tottenham next weekend.

    But in the FA Cup, the fourth competition, City were tasked with again taking on Chelsea, an entirely different prospect now Thomas Tuchel has replaced Frank Lampard and fortified the Blues.

    And Saturday's semi-final saw City finally come unstuck as Chelsea claimed a superb 1-0 success.

     

    Blues a different beast

    The improvement in Chelsea from January's match to this game was evident even in a first half in which they managed only two legal shots.

    All three of City's goals had come in the opening 45 minutes last time, tearing through Lampard's men at will. They were now limited to three first-half efforts of their own worth a combined 0.1 expected goals. Parity suited Tuchel, who could not allow De Bruyne to dictate once more.

    At the other end, a portender for City's later downfall appeared in the 'offsides' column, for the Premier League leaders were warned long before Hakim Ziyech's 55th-minute breakthrough.

    With just six minutes on the clock, Timo Werner advanced up the left and the flag stayed down. The forward played a low, square ball, which City could not cut out, and Ziyech scored. Then the flag went up. A let off.

    When Werner exploited the same space 10 minutes after the interval, set clear by a gorgeous Mason Mount pass, goalkeeper Zack Steffen decided to act.

    Seemingly unimpressed by the way with which a usually sturdy City defence had allowed Werner to centre and Ziyech to finish on the first occasion, Steffen advanced and fared no better than his team-mates. The United States international failed to narrow the angle and simply granted Ziyech an open goal when Werner made his pass again.

     

    KDB blow for treble bid

    Mount moved uneasily as he was replaced 15 minutes later, but the damage was done. City had already lost De Bruyne - who completed only 10 passes in the Chelsea half - to an ankle complaint at the start of the second half. That setback could have implications far beyond this encounter.

    Steffen twice saved City, blocking from Ziyech and reaching a tame Werner prod, and De Bruyne's replacement Foden sought to muster up more magic.

    Momentum swung but the scoreline did not. Ruben Dias headed over from close range and Raheem Sterling blasted beyond the crossbar.

    Although the flag was raised again to deny Chelsea a second in stoppage time - Christian Pulisic, on for Mount, frustrated - the Blues battled, blocked and bellowed their way across the finish line.

    Tuchel five times faced Guardiola in Germany and failed to end on the winning side. Boosted by spirit in defence and speed in the form of the much-maligned Werner, he finally found the formula.

    The Chelsea coach will get another go at Guardiola in the league on May 8, a third meeting this season hot on the heels of the sides' respective Champions League semis. They will know by then if there is to be a further part to this epic in a European final - hopefully, for City's sake, with De Bruyne back involved in Istanbul.

    Should Guardiola's men win that prize, the most precious of all, it could clinch a tremendous treble, but FA Cup glory is not on the agenda this season.

    "We never speak about the four titles," the City manager said in midweek. "One game at a time."

    The next game ensured nobody outside the club could speak about that clean sweep either - at least for another year.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.