UFC 253 was a bit of a strange show in the end. A bunch of slower fights to begin the night suggested we were heading for one of those damp squib UFC shows, but then an astonishing Flyweight fight turned the night around somewhat.
The show was still hinging on the two UFC title fights at the top of the card, and thankfully, both of them delivered hugely. We’ve got a new UFC Light-Heavyweight champion, while the UFC Middleweight title ended up staying exactly where it’d been before the event.
Here are the best and worst moments from UFC 253: Adesanya vs. Costa.
#1 Best: Adesanya remains the UFC’s undisputed Middleweight king
I’ll front up and say that I picked Paulo Costa to unseat Israel Adesanya this weekend and leave with the UFC Middleweight title. I figured ‘The Eraser’ would be able to use his aggression to corral Adesanya, and maybe even take him down and test his ground game.
That idea turned out to be horribly wrong. Costa simply looked like a rabbit in the headlights as ‘The Last Stylebender’ chopped up his left leg in the first round. And in the second, more of the same followed before Adesanya landed a flush head kick and finally a glancing shot directly to the temple to finish the Brazilian off.
People have been questioning Costa’s gameplan, but the most likely truth is that Adesanya is a lot, lot trickier to get a handle on than non-fighters understand. In that sense, he’s very much the Anderson Silva of his generation, and everyone should remember ‘The Spider’ making UFC legends like Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin look pretty stupid.
Who’s next for the Stylebender? Well, he mentioned Jared Cannonier in his post-fight interview, but can anyone really see ‘The Killa Gorilla’ pushing him any harder than Costa did?
For me the biggest test for him could be a left-field one. What if Colby Covington were to move up to 185lbs? His pressure and wrestling game would certainly bring something to the table that Adesanya hasn’t seen before in the UFC.
Either way, ‘The Last Stylebender’ is as dominant a champ as the UFC has to offer right now, and this was an excellent title defense for him.
#1 Worst: Bonnar can’t arrest Diego’s slump
UFC veteran Diego Sanchez has been fighting at the top level since 2005, longer than basically anyone else on the promotion’s roster right now. His demise has been spoken about for what seems like forever, but recently it felt more real than ever before.
Sanchez’s last two UFC outings saw him cornered by a lone coach – the inexperienced Joshua Fabia – and despite beating Michel Pereira by DQ in February, he’d looked outclassed in both fights. That’s why the news that UFC veteran Stephan Bonnar would be cornering Diego in his fight last night with Jake Matthews didn't come as a great surprise.
Unfortunately, the addition of ‘The American Psycho’ couldn’t help Sanchez at all. He was easily beaten by Matthews, who basically shut down all of the veteran’s offense, comfortably outstruck him, and then dropped him in the third round to put a capper on things.
‘The Nightmare’ reportedly has three fights left on his UFC contract, but should he really be encouraged to take them? In all honesty, the answer is no.
Sanchez is arguably the most exciting fighter in UFC history. His bouts with the likes of Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Karo Parisyan and Clay Guida are amongst the best in MMA history. But right now, he simply shouldn’t be fighting in the UFC, point blank, as sad as it is to admit that.