Many MMA fighters are looking to close out 2020 with big victories at UFC pay-per-views between now and the end of the year.

There promises to be some compelling action inside the octagon as combat sport continues. These bouts are particularly fascinating, so if you love UFC get these dates in your diary.

Adesanya vs Costa

The UFC middleweight title and two unbeaten MMA records are on the line when Israel Adesanya defends the belt against Brazil’s Paulo Costa at UFC 253 come the end of the September. If the betting is any indicator, then this will be one of the champ’s toughest examinations yet.

Costa is five from five since joining UFC and brings an overall pro MMA record of 13-0 (with 11 knockouts). That makes the Belo Horizonte native a danger to Nigeria-born Adesanya.

A terrific fight between Costa and Yoel Romero at UFC 241 last time out when the distance, but the judges unanimously awarded the Brazilian the decision. His orthodox jiu-jitsu style could cause Adesanya problems and the number two contender in the rankings makes for an absorbing test.

UFC’s middleweight champion also beat Romero when last in action via unanimous decision extending his own undefeated streak to 19-0 (14 KOs). Using that cage fighter as a form marker, there isn’t much between Adesanya and this new challenger.

The market sides with the titleholder, however, at 8/15 but Costa isn’t what you would call a big underdog at 5/4. Indeed, as we saw with the recent preview of Pedro Munhoz vs Frankie Edgar fight; the bookies don’t always call these bouts correctly. It’s perfectly possible that money comes in for Costa and narrows those odds in the near future.

Khabib vs Gaethje

After so many cancelled fights involving the UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 254 should finally see him step back inside the octagon and defend his belt against Justin Gaethje. The year-long wait to see the Dagestan, Russia native in action again only adds to his mystique.

Khabib is 28-0 with eight knockouts and 10 submission wins among those. His infamous victory over Conor McGregor, for all the unsavoury aftermath, sets a clear standard that everyone else in this division has to measure up to. None have managed so far.

Gaethje, who has two losses on his pro MMA record, was promoted to interim champion with his late stoppage of Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. This is a title unification bout, then, for which Khabib is odds-on to win and once again prove he is the undisputed best in this weight class.

The reason why Gaethje, who has a collegiate amateur wrestling background, is the outsider is one of those two career losses came to Dustin Poirier. Khabib had no problem tapping that fighter out at UFC 242 when we last saw him and, on that basis, you have to make him a strong favourite.

This pair have similar basic styles too with grappler Gaethje tangling with the sambo specialist. Khabib also has judo and kickboxing experience, hence the striking and submission ability. The night of 25 October can’t come soon enough with this bout headlining an upcoming PPV.

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