Alessandro Costa motivated to see former rival Steve Erceg fight for UFC title

Like most up-and-coming fighters, Alessandro Costa envisions himself becoming UFC champion. However, that dream is starting to become a little more real for the Brazilian.

Costa (13-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) returns to the octagon this Saturday at UFC 301, a card headlined by Steve Erceg, the man who he last fought. Erceg is challenging champion Alexandre Pantoja for his UFC flyweight title. Costa can’t help but think where he’d be if the closely contested bout against Erceg back in November would’ve gone a little differently.

“If I would’ve won, maybe I’d be fighting for the title,” Costa told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “Pantoja already beat everyone beneath him in the rankings. He already fought everyone. So possibly, if I would’ve beaten Steve, I would’ve taken his spot in the rankings, and maybe I would be fighting for the title. I did think about it and thought it was interesting.

“I see myself fighting for the title, but with what just happened and seeing Steve up there fighting for the title, I have even more confidence that I can get there. I see a title fight a lot closer now.”

Costa lost a close unanimous decision 29-28 on all scorecards in favor of Erceg back at UFC 295. His bout against Peru’s Kevin Borjas (9-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) this Saturday will be the first fight since. Meanwhile, Erceg went on to fight once again, knocking out Matt Schnell in March before getting the title shot at UFC 301.

The 28-year-old Costa is excited to see how the main event plays out. He favors Pantoja but thinks Erceg has a solid chance of pulling off an upset.

As far as his own fight, Costa is excited to step in the octagon. The Brazilian, who lives and trains out of Mexico, will be fighting professionally in his native country for the very first time.

“I thought I would feel pressure when my manager, Jason (House), told me that I was fighting in Brazil because I would be fighting at home against an opponent from another country, but the truth is that I feel very good,” Costa said. “I think it’s because of my experience, having fought someone from the rankings and people ahead of me. Also, I’ve been alongside Diego, who fought at UFC 300 – a historic event. I think those things have helped me remain calm.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 301.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie