In sports we always want to come up with these simple analogies that quickly and easily answer questions we may have. A good jab will always beat a hook, muay thai beats karate, jiu jitsu will always beat boxing, etc. But what we miss when making such analogies are the details within each art and its practitioner, this is where the hard part of fight predictions comes into play. If I could always easily say grappler beats striker, jiu jitsu beats striking, wrestling beats striking and wrestling beats jiu jitsu, then there would be no need to watch, we could just make statements based off of analogies and we would know the outcomes to each contest. So we have to try and take into account and analyze the small details and techniques that can change the landscape of the fight. What if the striker learns how to use frames and footwork before even having to wrestle, so that the much better wrestler has to shoot from the middle of the octagon, too far out to execute it correctly. What if the wrestler understands BJJ enough to neutralize its effectiveness and rain down blows onto their opponent.
This fight will be contested and won in these exact minor intricacies and details of the fight, because we could easily say Costa is a jiu jitsu blackbelt so he will beat Izzy, or Izzy is a more decorated kickboxer so he will pick Costa apart.
When we look at their fighting styles, Costa is a jiu jitsu blackbelt who does not use it and Stylebender is a kickboxer who has learned anti-wrestling to stay on is feet. So it is fair to assume this will be a standup fight.
Lets take a look at their attributes:
Israel Adesanya's Attributes:
He is incredibly long and lean for his weight class, standing 6'4 when most others probably top out at 6'2. He also has incredibly long limbs, creating a reach he can use for distance management.
Israel uses footwork, stance switches, feints and angles to ensure that he is never in a compromised position and holds himself at his distance and not his opponents.
He likes to analyze, stalk and create openings to exploit while being incredibly patient.
Paulo Costa's Attributes:
This guy is huge, and I mean fucking huge. No idea how he makes the weight class consistently but he does, and he often looks like he's a heavyweight in there with middleweights. Let's be honest, dude looks like a greek god.
He uses his size and strength to break his opponents, stalking them and constantly pushing forward.
He will eat shots just to place someone on their back foot and up against the cage. Once he has them where he wants them he unloads long hand combinations, mixing it up between the head and the body very nicely.
Analysis & Predictions:
This fight largely comes down to one thing for me, open space. If the fight is contested in open space, then Izzy slowly picks him apart. If Costa can close the distance and trap Izzy against the cage and unload shots, then Costa will win.
A fight that many people have looked at and talked about is the Uriah Hall vs. Paulo Costa fight. In that fight you can see that Paulo largely lacks certain defensive attributes, which he makes up for by having hulking size and pressure.
When Uriah had his moments, he was moving around swiftly and beautifully snapping off his jab, which found its home on Paulo's face consistently. Costa got around this by biting down on his mouth piece, not caring about getting hit and trapping Uriah. He broke Uriah mentally with this pressure and not to mention punching him in the balls several times.
Israel is not a fighter that breaks mentally, you will have to knock him out before he gives up. He has footwork that allows him to not get caught on the cage and when he does he understands that he is in a vulnerable position and moves.
I think Costa will pressure Israel calmly in the first round, then gets annoyed with his inability to trap Israel in the second. Where he then switches game plans the same way he did in the Uriah fight, attempting to press forward negating any strikes coming his way, playing right into the counter strikers hand. Israel uses feints and angles in the first, then finds a home in the second and wins via TKO in the third as Costa is completely gassed.
I do want to end saying that it is incredibly hard to make fight predictions and I could be completely wrong, but this is how I believe it will play out.