- The UFC returns to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi for UFC 253
- Israel Adesanya is favored by UFC 253 odds to retain middleweight title over Paulo Costa
- Dominick Reyes is favored to win vacated light-heavyweight title over Jan Blachowicz
- Kai Kara-France is favored in flyweight bout over Brandon Royval
UFC 253 marks the start of a five-event (for now) run for the promotion at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The UFC 253 odds for this event have a good mix of heavy sports betting favorites, and some enticing underdogs as well.
UFC 253 will be headlined by a clash for the middleweight title belt. Israel Adesanya aims to defend his strap against Paulo Costa in a match that was supposed to be held at UFC 248, but Costa was injured. There is also a bout for the light-heavyweight belt, which was vacated by Jon Jones as he moves up to heavyweight. Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will meet to decide the next 205-pound champion. Finally, a top-10 flyweight bout wraps up the top matches as Kai Kara-France faces Brandon Royval.
If you’re looking for how to watch UFC 253, you’ve come to the right place. You can start with the early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, starting at 7:00 PM ET. An hour later, the prelims start on ESPN+ at 8:00 PM ET. Finally, the main card begins on ESPN+ and pay-per-view at 11:00 PM ET.
One thing to note as you’re going over these MMA betting odds. The early prelims will be starting around 3:00 AM local time in Abu Dhabi. The main card will start at 6:00 AM local time. How will that affect the fighters? It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
UFC 253 odds from the Bovada Sportsbook
Israel Adesanya (-185) vs. Paulo Costa (+150) – Middleweight Championship Bout
New Zealand’s Adesanya (19-0) sits atop the 185-pound throne as he defeated Yoel Romero by unanimous decision in March (Romero replaced the injured Costa). Meanwhile, Brazil’s Costa (13-0) beat Romero in August 2019, also by unanimous decision in an absolute slugfest. This fight has been brewing for a while now, with the two competitors throwing barbs at each other in interviews through the media, or via social media. Adesanya started yelling at Costa as soon as he defeated Robert Whittaker for the belt in October 2019, and has accused him of taking steroids (Costa has been suspended in the past by the United States Anti-Doping Agency). “Borrachinha” has accused Adesanya of being a boring fighter, of being disrespectful and a slew of other things. Long story short: these dudes don’t like each other.
It is also a contrast of styles as Adesanya is known as a technical counter-striker with a strong kickboxing background. Costa is regarded for his strength and imposing physique and while he trained jiu-jitsu, he actually started out in Muay Thai. It would be a massive surprise if either fighter took this fight to the mat. Costa is also going to come forward against Adesanya, which plays right into the hands of “The Last Stylebender”. But that might be Costa’s best chance because he’s not going to technically outstrike the champion, who should be able to use his counterpunching to retain his title.
UFC 253 Odds Pick: Adesanya (-185)
Dominick Reyes (-300) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+230) – Interim Light Heavyweight Championship Bout
Reyes (12-1) is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Jones in February, but many felt that it was Reyes that won the fight. You couldn’t find many people giving Reyes much of a chance going into the Jones fight, but Reyes put the then-champion under pressure with volume striking and going to the body. Blachowicz (26-8) is riding a three-fight win streak after a KO win over Corey Anderson in February. The Polish MMA artist might have been next in line to face Jones if he stayed at 205 pounds. However, the correct two fighters are battling for the belt (with all due respect to Thiago Santos, who should get the next shot if he beats Glover Teixeira on October 4th).
Reyes, a California native, is a dangerous striker and kickboxer, but he might have tired himself out over the first three rounds against Jones, who got a couple takedowns to turn the fight in his favor. Reyes now knows what it’s like to fight a championship tilt that goes five rounds, so he should be more prepared. He’ll have the edge in the stand-up game, but Reyes will have to beware of Blachowicz’s ground attack. Blachowicz has nine wins by submission and is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Reyes was taken down by Jones pretty easily, although he worked hard to get back to his feet. If Reyes can keep Blachowicz at a distance, he should be able to claim the title.
UFC 253 Odds Pick: Reyes (-300)
Kai Kara-France (-240) vs. Brandon Royval (+190) – Flyweight
Kara-France (21-8, 1 NC) has been out of action since a unanimous-decision win over Tyson Nam in February. Royval (11-4), who hails from Colorado, had a triumphant debut in the UFC in May as he submitted Tim Elliott in the second round of their clash. It was a fitting finish for Royval, who has seven submission wins. Kara-France is a kickboxer from New Zealand, where he trains with Adesanya.
Kara-France has two submission losses on his resume, but those came way back in 2014. You would think that he has learned how to defend those better. He’ll look to keep this fight standing up because Royval has the edge on the mat. As with the other two MMA betting favorites on this card, if Kara-France can keep his opponent at a distant range, he should be able to take a win and move into the top five of the UFC’s rankings at 125 pounds.
UFC 253 Odds Pick: Kara-France (-240)
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