One of the biggest middleweight title fights in recent UFC history is officially set.
Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa both successfully made weight Friday in Abu Dhabi ahead of the UFC 253 main event. Adesanya weighed 184 pounds and Costa was 185 pounds. Adesanya questioned Costa’s ability to make the 185-pound limit this week, as Costa cuts a significant amount of weight, but he hit the mark.
On Saturday, Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against Costa at the Flash Forum inside the UFC’s safe-zone bubble on Yas Island. It’s the first time a UFC middleweight title fight will be contested between two undefeated fighters, and the first time in 11 years that a UFC men’s title fight will have two undefeated participants. The last time was Lyoto Machida versus Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 98 on May 23, 2009.
Coming in, ESPN has Adesanya ranked No. 1 and Costa ranked No. 3 in the world at middleweight.
Adesanya (19-0) won the undisputed middleweight title by knocking out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 on Oct. 6, 2019. He was the interim champion prior to that. Adesanya, 31, had his first successful title defense against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 in March, a unanimous-decision victory. The Nigeria-born New Zealander has won all eight of his UFC fights.
Costa (13-0) is also coming off a win over Romero, via unanimous decision at UFC 241 in August 2019. The hard-hitting Brazil native has won all five of his UFC fights, including four of them by TKO. Costa, 29, has only one career decision, his last bout versus Romero.
Both co-main event title fight participants, Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz, also weighed in successfully Friday, hitting the scales at 205 pounds. The two men will fight for the vacant light heavyweight title.
The belt was relinquished last month by longtime champion Jon Jones, who intends to move to heavyweight. Reyes (12-1) lost a close bout to Jones in his last contest, his first career defeat. The 30-year-old California native was 6-0 in the UFC prior to that. Blachowicz (26-8) has won three straight, including two by knockout. The 37-year-old Poland native has just one loss since 2017.
Two featherweight fighters on the card missed weight on Friday. Both Zubaira Tukhugov and Ludovit Klein weighed in at 150 pounds, four pounds over the limit for their bouts. According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Tukhugov’s fight against Hakeem Dawodu is still on, with Tukhugov forfeiting a percentage of his purse. It is expected, but not clear at this time if Klein’s fight against Shane Young will also remain on the card.