Adesanya shines in successful UFC title defence

Israel Adesanya. Photo: PHOTOSPORT/RNZ

New Zealand mixed martial arts star Israel Adesanya has retained his UFC world title in dominant fashion.

Adesanya has scored a second round technical knockout win over Brazil’s Paulo Costa in Abu Dhabi.

One of four fighters from Auckland’s City Kickboxing gym featuring on the UFC 253 card, the reigning Halberg sportsman of the year took his professional record to a perfect 20-0 with the victory.

With Costa also taking an unbeaten record (13-0) into the bout, many had predicted a close and competitive contest.

But the 31-year-old Nigerian-born Kiwi made it look easy, gradually asserting his dominance in the opening round as numerous hard kicks landed, causing significant damage to the Brazilian’s front leg.

By the end of the round, Adesanya also began to find his range with his punches and in the early stages of the second it became obvious Costa was beginning to struggle.

Eventually the New Zealander’s skills became too much, a right hand to the temple dropping the No 2-ranked contender before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

Meanwhile, the rise of Adesanya’s team-mate Brad Riddell in the stacked UFC lightweight division has continued.

Riddell has come-from-behind for an unanimous decision victory over Alex Da Silva in Abu Dhabi.

The 28-year-old Cantabrian was bettered in the first round by his Brazilian opponent but turned the tide in the second, before finishing in strong fashion.

Riddell took the bout 29-28 on all three judges scorecards to move to 3-0 in the UFC and 9-1 overall as a professional.

However, things have not gone to plan for Riddell’s team-mates Kai Kara-France and Shane Young.

Ranked seventh in the flyweight division, Kara-France has suffered a second round submission loss to No 9-ranked Brandon Royval.

The Kiwi had a big moment in the first round, landing a right hook flush on the chin of his American opponent.

But as Kara-France swooped to finish, Royval landed a big shot of his own, and from their his sharp ground game came to the fore.

Having attempted a triangle choke late in the opening round, Royval eventually got the finish in that exact fashion in round two.

Kara-France’s record fell to 4-2 in the UFC, and 21-9 overall.

Competing in the featherweight division, Young was knocked out in the first round by Ludovit Klein.

The Slovakian, making his UFC debut on the back of a seven-fight win streak, stunned the Kiwi with a head kick before putting him down and swiftly ending the bout with a series of sharp punches.

Young was back in action for the first time in more than 18 months, having recovered from a serious injury which threatened to end his career.

He dropped to 2-2 in the UFC and 13-6 overall as a professional.

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