UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya is set to defend his title against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on Sept. 19, according to Combate and confirmed by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
Adesanya (19-0) and Costa (13-0) will mark the second time in UFC history that two undefeated males will fight for an undisputed title, following Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida’s light heavyweight bout at UFC 98 in 2008. The event is set to take place in either Las Vegas, Nev. or at UFC’s fight island in Abu Dhabi, but is yet to be determined due to the coronavirus pandemic, per Helwani.
In March, Adesanya was previously scheduled to face Costa in UFC 248 before Costa suffered a torn left biceps and was forced to withdraw. Instead, Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight title for the first time against Yoel Romero—who filled in for Costa—via unanimous decision. Adesanya, 30, first claimed the middleweight belt at UFC 245 in Oct. 2019.
Adesanya and Costa, 29, have been seen as rivals since Adesanya first claimed the middleweight title in 2019, adding to the fight’s anticipation. Costa last fought at UFC 241 on Aug. 17, 2019, when he defeated Romero via unanimous decision and earned the Fight of the Night award.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje were originally set to headline the card on Sept. 19 but will reportedly have their lightweight fight pushed back to later in the fall. Gaethje recently filled in for Nurmagomedov in UFC 249, defeating Tony Ferguson via TKO in the fifth round.