UFC 302 Co-Main Event Preview and Prediction: Sean Strickland – Paulo Costa

MMA: UFC 293 - Adesanya vs Strickland
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Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 302, we are going to see a five-round battle in the middleweight division. Former middleweight champion Sean Strickland (28-6) returns to the octagon as he takes on former title challenger Paulo Costa (14-3).

Staring with Strickland, the last time he fought was back in January against Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297. Strickland lost his middleweight title in a razor close split decision. I personally scored the fight for Strickland but didn’t have a problem with the decision going to DDP. That loss snapped a three-fight win streak which included the dominant title upset over Israel Adesanya in Australia.

Over to Paulo Costa, we are just a few years removed from him being 13-0 and being looked at as the most dangerous middleweight in the division. However, after getting knocked out by Israel Adesanya, his career has been filled with inactivity and injuries. He fought Robert Whittaker back in February and lost a decision. Overall, he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights.

UFC 302 Prediction

Paulo Costa has shown even in his losses that he’s still a very dangerous contender in the UFC’s middleweight division. That said, if he’s going to win tomorrow, I only see one path for him. The path is by figuring out a way to land a bomb on Sean Strickland and stopping him.

We know Strickland’s game. He’s going to come forward with constant pressure and he’s going to fire clean shots down the middle meanwhile Costa throws looping shots with a ton of power. If Costa can’t find the chin of Strickland with a big power shot, I don’t know how he wins.

Over five rounds, the volume is going to favor Strickland. The cardio favors Strickland and the boxing favors Strickland. I expect Costa to have Strickland against the fence at times throwing huge shots, but I’m a big believer in the former UFC champion’s striking defense.

Ultimately, I think Strickland weathers a few early storms and comes on strong in the championship rounds. In the fourth, I see him really teeing off and finishing a tired Paulo Costa.

Prediction: Sean Strickland by TKO – Round 4

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