The bad blood, the talking all ends now.
UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya heads to UFC Fight Island this Saturday to attempt to silence bitter rival Paulo Costa on ESPN+ PPV. In the co-main event, Dominick Reyes rumbles with Jan Blachowicz for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight title.
These guys don’t like each other and have been throwing verbal threats back and forth for months and now it’s time to find out who is the best middleweight in the UFC.
Adesanya comes in as a -175 favorite at William Hill with the takeback on Costa at +155.
First off let’s talk about the betting line. When this number was first out and I saw it rise to +150, I really wanted to jump on Costa at that number if the fight was set for the UFC Apex here in Las Vegas. According to @fightnomics on Twitter, the difference between a regular cage at UFC Fight Island vs. the smaller variety at the UFC Apex is 20% wider and 44% larger. Clearly this would matter to a guy who likes to move around and control the distance in Adesanya vs. the UFC’s version of The Hulk in Costa who wants to grapple and toss the champion around.
So a regular cage doesn’t make that price as appealing as it once was for me. No result would surprise me in this fight. Adesanya is a very difficult guy to go after. His speed and unorthodox striking angles make him a tough puzzle to solve. While Costa has shown brute force and power, as seen in his amazing three-round war with Adesanaya’s last challenger, Yoel Romero.
This is a fight likely won in the first 13-17 minutes. If Adesanya is still standing after that time frame, Costa is likely in big trouble. That doesn’t mean Adesanya will stop him but it likely means the champion survived the worst of it and would likely be down only a round or two on the cards setting him up for a strong finish.
On the other hand, if Costa gets ahold of Adesanya early, which no one has been able to really do yet, it could be a dominant victory for the challenger.
Omo Naija 🇳🇬.. My love for my motherland and respect for the elderly has seen me this far.— Israel Adesanya (@stylebendar) September 22, 2020
I'm Yoruba and proudly African.
Sept 26th is the date we make history together🇳🇬#UFC253 pic.twitter.com/3T0xdARsw2
As I preach regularly, betting fights is about finding the right number or passing. This is another example of a price being close to correct. From what I have seen in the betting markets, it’s more likely we see a price that gets me interested in Costa than Adesanya. So based on that theory, here is what I recommend, if you see -155 or lower on Adesanya jump on. If you see +180 on Costa go that route.
For the true gamblers out there (odds not available at press time in Vegas): if you prefer Adesanya, I would take him by +300 or more by decision and back it up with Adesanya by KO in Round 4 and 5 in case Costa gasses at +900 or more and +1200 or more. If you want to go for Costa, jump on by KO at +220 or more as I find it unlikely he wins a decision in this fight.
In the co-main we have a truly interesting matchup for the belt Jon Jones relinquished to pursue his dreams at heavyweight. Reyes was arguably the closest to ever beating Jones as he let his lead slip away in the championship rounds. But now that he’s moved on both men who wanted a crack at the all-time great Jones, are left standing with each other.
Reyes is a -270 favorite over the +230 Blachowicz. Both men have power, both fighters have been in the ring with some of the best the division has to offer. At first glance, Reyes should be the favorite, but this price feels a bit too high. Blachowicz knows at 37 he doesn’t have the time the younger Reyes (30) does. He’s as focused as he’s ever been and I wonder what kind of an effect the decision loss to Jones had on Reyes.
At that big of a number on a fight that I think should be about -180/+150, I am backing the big underdog here. BLACHOWICZ
Charlos headline big card
What a fantastic boxing weekend we have upon us as three major events take place this Saturday.
Let’s first start with the PPV offering as two brothers defend their titles. In the main event, Jermall Charlo puts his undefeated record and WBC Middleweight title on the line vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Jermell Charlo defends his WBC Junior Middleweight crown in a unification battle with IBF, WBO Champion Jeison Rosario. This fight is also for the vacant Ring Magazine Junior Middleweight title.
Current lines at William Hill have Jermall Charlo -180 with a takeback of +160 on Derevyanchenko. While Rosario is a big +330 underdog to take home all the straps with Jermell Charlo at -410.
Let’s start with the main event, Jermall (30-0, 22 KOs) has been the most dominant of the two brothers, but hasn’t fought as many tough opponents as his brother. That all changes Saturday, Derevyanchenko you might remember from his battle with Gennady (now Gennadiy) “GGG” Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs. Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) gave the top pound-for-pound regulars all they could handle in two tough decision losses.
Jermall Charlo has all the goods you are looking for in an undefeated champion, punching power, speed and at the moment a chin that doesn’t crack into glass shards. But this is clearly the best fighter he has fought in his career. And while I think it won’t be easy, I recommend a half unit play at this price on Charlo to remain unbeaten.
The blueprint is out and though Charlo might be a little nervous when the scores are read, the A side usually wins the close fights and I think Derevyanchenko goes on to another heartbreaking razor thin decision loss. JERMALL CHARLO
Jermell won back his WBC title with a 11th-round TKO of Tony Harrison. It was sweet revenge for Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) as it was a controversial decision loss. Now he comes into a major unification bout against Rosario, who most experts believed wouldn’t be here, who won his two titles with a stunning KO of Julian Williams as a +600 to +800 underdog.
Clearly Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) is getting more respect this time as only a +330 fighter against Charlo, who is for what I can see a better fighter than Williams. However I think the line might be too short, Charlo has a lot of tools as a boxer and slips punches with more regularity than the hitable Williams. Rosario does have a puncher’s chance but due to his last win, Charlo is not going to take him lightly. Charlo outboxes him in the middle part of the fight and might even get the stoppage in the championship rounds. JERMELL CHARLO
ESPN+ will feature Top Rank’s Josh Taylor in the main event from a card in London. Taylor is the reigning Ring, WBA, IBF Junior Welterweight champion and he defends his titles against Apinun Khongsong. This fight is considered by experts as a tuneup fight for his possible showdown with WBC, WBO Junior Welterweight champion Jose Ramirez which would be a tremendous world title unification fight.
Taylor comes into this fight as a -3000 to -5000 favorite so bookmakers around the world clearly agree this is a tuneup fight. I don’t recommend laying that type of number but I do recommend watching Taylor to get pumped up for the showdown later likely in 2021.
Lastly, checking in on DAZN streaming network, Mairis Briedis challenges Yuniel Dorticos for his IBF Cruiserweight championship. Also on the line is the vacant Ring Magazine Cruiserweight title and it is the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament.
Briedis is -190 at William Hill with a takeback of +170 Dorticos. While all of these fights will be great, this one has potential for a lot of violence, Briedis has 26 wins with 19 knockouts, Dorticos has 24 wins and 22 knockouts. Likely someone is going to sleep here with these two massive punchers.
If I had a lean here it would be Dorticos just because the number might be a bit high, but it would be a quarter unit play at best. DORTICOS