UFC 302 Odds, Prediction: Sean Strickland vs. Paulo Costa

Payton Matthews | Updated May 30, 2024

MMA: UFC 293 - Adesanya vs Strickland

The co-main event of UFC 302 from Newark, N.J. on Saturday is a non-title middleweight bout between former champion Sean Strickland and contender Paulo Costa.

Strickland is a -230 favourite on the MMA odds with Costa at +190.

Sean Strickland UFC 302 Odds

Dricus Du Plessis is the current UFC middleweight champion, and the 33-year-old Strickland, a Los Angeles native who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, is ranked No. 1 in the division and No. 14 pound-for-pound by the organization with a professional record of 28-6.

Strickland was a long-time King of the Cage middleweight champion and made his UFC debut in 2014 with first-round submission (rear-naked choke) victory over Bubba McDaniel. “Tarzan” finally got a UFC middleweight title shot in September 2023 against Israel Adesanya and won by unanimous decision in a major upset as some books had Adesanya as heavy as a -700 favourite. Strickland moved forward the entirety of the bout, wore down the champion with pressure and kept him on his back foot.

Next up for Strickland was Du Plessis, who won the belt with a split decision victory in January from Toronto in a very entertaining, bloody, back-and-forth fight that could have easily gone the other way. Strickland had a lot of success early with his jab, but then Du Plessis turned things around starting in Round 3. UFC CEO Dana White said he thought Strickland won and he did land more significant strikes, 173-137. The loss snapped Strickland’s three-fight winning streak snapped, but he has won eight of 11 since moving up to 185 pounds in 2020.

Strickland is one of 17 fighters in history to earn victories in three UFC weight classes as he has won bouts at light heavyweight, middleweight and welterweight, joining Ildemar Alcantara and Trevin Giles.

The 6-foot-1 Strickland has a reach of 76 inches and his bouts average 15:12. He lands 5.91 significant strikers per minute with 41 per cent accuracy and absorbs 4.33 with 62 per cent defence. His takedown average is 0.85 per 15 minutes with 64 per cent accuracy, and his takedown defence is 77 per cent.

Strickland’s average fight time of 16:57 in UFC middleweight competition only is second-longest in divisional history behind Adesanya (17:49). Strickland’s 6.19 significant strikes landed per minute in UFC middleweight competition is the third-best rate in divisional history behind Du Plessis (6.49) and Marc-Andre Barriault (6.19).

Overall, Strickland has 13 wins by decision, 11 by KO/TKO and four by submission. For Saturday, his favoured method of victory is by points at +150, followed by KO/TKO/DQ at +165 and submission at +1400. A draw is +5000.

Paulo Costa UFC 302 Odds

The 33-year-old Costa, from Brazil, is 14-3 in his professional career and ranked No. 7 in the UFC middleweight division. He started 8-0 in various organizations before getting his UFC debut in March 2017 and beating Garreth McLellan by first-round TKO (punches).

All three of Costa’s career losses have come in his past four bouts, but he has fought some of the best guys in the world. “Borrachinha” got his shot at the UFC middleweight title in September 2020 against Israel Adesanya but lost by second-round TKO (punches and elbows). Costa didn’t fight again until October 2021 and lost to Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision.

It appeared that Costa got things on track in August 2022 by taking out former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision. For various reasons, Costa didn’t fight again until this past February at UFC 298 against another UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Despite almost finishing Whittaker at the end of the first round with a head kick, Costa would lose by unanimous decision.

“I want to fight him specifically because he’s a great fighter, he’s a great match, and he’s number one,” Costa said recently of taking on Strickland. “This fight can lead me to the title again. I am more experienced now, I’ve reached the place that I wished before, as a man, and as an athlete. This is the time, this is it. At UFC 302, I will beat Sean by knockout.”

The 6-foot-1 Costa has a reach of 72 inches and his bouts average 11:09. He lands 6.20 significant strikes per minute with 58 per cent accuracy and absorbs 6.38 with 47 per cent defence. His takedown average is 0.45 per 15 minutes with 75 per cent accuracy, and his takedown defence is 80 per cent.

Costa has 11 wins by KO/TKO, two by decision and one by submission. He is the only middleweight in UFC history to begin his octagon tenure with four consecutive knockout wins. Costa has earned his past two victories by decision after his previous 12 wins came by stoppage.

For Saturday, his favoured method of victory is by KO/TKO/DQ at +300, followed by decision at +900 and submission at +2200. That the fight goes the full five rounds is +130 with no at -170.

UFC 302 Prediction: Strickland vs. Costa

Costa in an upset inside distance.