UFC: Paulo Costa’s steep fall from grace continues

Jul 7, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Uriah Hall (red gloves) fights Paulo Costa (blue gloves) during UFC 226 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s rough being a Paulo Costa fan these days; believe me, I would know. Yes, there is once again drama ahead of the polarizing UFC star’s main-event fight this weekend.

Less than 13 full months after facing 185-pound king Isreal Adesanya, the public narrative on Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa (13-1, 5-1 UFC) has shifted from one centering around a tantalizing fighter and personality to him being entitled, overrated, and an excuse maker amongst UFC fans. To be sure, Costa has brought most of this criticism on himself.

After storming into the UFC as a blue-chip, 8-0 prospect back in 2017, ‘The Eraser’ went on to score KO finishes in each of his first four contests with the promotion: That kept alive a 100% finishing rate that Costa had racked up during his first eight fights outside the UFC. In his 5th UFC fight, ‘Borrachinha’ and (former) perennial 185-pound contender Yoel Romero went at it in a true fight of the year contender that saw Costa eke out a close – yet exciting – decision.

Costa headed into the legit super-fight with ‘Izzy’ heavily respected by both UFC fans, and Las Vegas oddsmakers (he was just a short +155 underdog) alike. What happened next shocked most onlookers, as even those who believed ‘The Last Stylerbender’ would win the bout could not have envisioned Costa’s timidness.

The rare matchup between two undefeated fighters in their prime did not live up to the hype, namely because Paulo Costa looked like he didn’t belong in the octagon with Adesanya. After the fight, he famously blamed his performance on the fact that he drank too much wine the night before. He went on to say that he was only at “10-20% of his capabilities” and the fans would see the old Costa in the near future.

It’s been over a year now and that still has not happened, with Costa declining to take anything less than what he feels is a bout that will catapult him right into another title shot. Twice, proposed fights between Costa and top-five ranked middleweights have been scrapped since then and he has done himself no favors when he has decided to speak with the media.

And, even though he’s gotten what he’s asked for with this Saturday’s upcoming contest with #5-ranked middleweight Marvin ‘The Italian Dream’ Vettori (17-5-1, 7-3-1 UFC), the whole thing now has a stinky smell to it now that he came out on Wednesday and admitted he currently weighed a full 25 pounds over the 185-pound limit and that he would not be able to make the weight in time.

No reason – legitimate or otherwise – was given to reporters who flooded the 30-year-old with questions as to how, or why, this happened. Instead, Costa shifted the honus for the fight still happening on Vettori, simply stating the fight would happen, “if this guy still wants to fight me.”

Talk about gaslighting.

New terms for UFC Fight Night: Costa vs. Vettori

As of Thursday afternoon, the much-heralded fight will go on, but now at a 195-pound catchweight (an agreed-upon weight at a non-traditional weight ‘class’). Paulo Costa will also be fined 20% of his purse, a standard practice when a fighter misses weight, which he was obviously set to do at Friday’s weigh-ins.

‘The Eraser’ has uncharacteristically short arms for the middleweight division and many have argued that he has only been so successful because he is essentially a light-heavyweight fighting a full 20 pounds under his true fighting weight. For the most part, actually making the scale has not been an issue for Costa in his UFC career, although he has ballooned up to crazy-high weights on fight night after re-hydrating.

Now, the focus will shift to whether or not Costa will even be able to make the new 195-pound limit. Vettori has been a good sport about the whole ordeal but noted that he still wanted Costa to have to ‘suffer a little bit’ in addition to forfeiting a chunk of his purse.

Unfortunately for Costa, even if he does score a terrific knockout victory over ‘The Italian Dream’ now, the victory will be marred by yet another Paulo Costa failure.

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