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Israel Adesanya’s thirst for big-game hunting put him on the trail of a real-life grizzly bear.
“The Last Stylebender” will defend his undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown against the undefeated and physically imposing Paulo Henrique Costa in the UFC 253 main event on Saturday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Adesanya, who operates out of the City Kickboxing camp in New Zealand, enters the cage with a perfect 19-0 record. He last competed under the UFC 248 marquee on March 7, when he took a unanimous decision from 2000 Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero. Costa, meanwhile, has raced out to a 13-0 start to his career. He last fought at UFC 241, where he claimed a unanimous verdict against the aforementioned Romero on Aug 17, 2019.
As Adesanya and Costa tie up their remaining loose ends ahead of their long-awaited showdown, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
31: Years of age for Adesanya, who was born on July 22, 1989 in Lagos, Nigeria.
14: Adesanya wins by knockout, accounting for 74 percent of his career total (19). His list of victims includes Robert Whittaker, Derek Brunson, Melvin Guillard and Kenan Song.
10: Knockdowns landed by Adesanya as a UFC middleweight, tying him with Romero for third place on the promotion’s all-time list at 185 pounds. Only Anderson Silva (13) and Nate Marquardt (12) have landed more.
80: Inches of reach for Adesanya, providing him with an eight-inch reach advantage against Costa. He has had an edge in reach against seven of his eight UFC opponents. The lone exception was Rob Wilkinson, who also wields an 80-inch reach. Adesanya made his Octagon debut opposite Wilkinson at UFC 221, where he put away with the Aussie with second round knees and punches in February 2018.
49: Takedowns attempted against Adesanya since he joined the UFC roster nearly three years ago. Only seven—14 percent—have been successfully completed.
29: Years of age for Costa, who was born on April 21, 1991 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
32: Seconds needed for Costa to dispatch Ademilson Borges Duarte with punches at an Upper Fight MMA Championship event in June 2013. Having occurred in the Brazilian’s second professional assignment, it remains the fastest finish of his 13-fight career.
8.43: Strikes landed per minute by Costa since he linked arms with the UFC. It ranks as the highest such rate in the promotion’s history for fighters with at least five Octagon appearances, ahead of Justin Gaethje (7.74), Leslie Smith (7.56), Shane Burgos (7.31) and Cristiane Justino (7.07).
1: Submission victory to Costa’s credit. He submitted Eduardo Ramon with a rear-naked choke to capture the vacant middleweight championship at Jungle Fight 87 on May 21, 2016. Ramon checked out 2:40 into Round 1. Costa owns 11 wins by knockout or technical knockout.
3: Post-fight bonuses banked by Costa in his five UFC outings. He has been awarded “Fight of the Night” once and “Performance of the Night” twice, resulting in $150,000 of additional income.