UFC 253: Kiwis Israel Adesanya, Kai Kara-France confirmed for main card

Kiwi UFC star Israel Adesanya's highly anticipated middleweight title defence against Brazil's Paulo Costa finally has an official date.

The UFC has announced that the two will square off - as earlier reported - in the main event of UFC 253, thought the later date of September 27 (NZ time).

A location is yet to be confirmed, though it seems likely it will take place as part of the promotion's return to 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi.

Last month, the 31-year-old told Newshub he'd hoped the fight could take place in his hometown of Auckland, although the recent resurgence of COVID-19 may have put an end to any chance that eventuates.

Adesanya will share the card with compatriot and City Kickboxing teammate Kai Kara-France, with 'Don't Blink' to take on Brandon Royval in a flyweight duel.

Costa hasn't fought since August 2019, when he beat Yoel Romero via unanimous decision.

Adesanya is also coming off a convincing victory over Romero back in March, after original opponent Costa was forced to withdraw due to a bicep injury.

The bad blood between the two fighters dates back to before Adesanya's win over Robert Whittaker to claim the belt at UFC 243 in Melbourne last October, with the pair since trading continual barbs via social media.

Kai Kara-France.
Kai Kara-France. Photo credit: Photosport

Kara-France last appeared at the UFC Fight NIght event in Auckland in February, where he earned a comfortable unanimous decision win over American Tyson Nam to claim his ninth victory in his past 10 bouts.

The 10th-ranked Royval - a grappling specialist - is riding a three-fight win streak, which have all come via submission finish. His most recent win came against Tim Elliott in May.