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A 20 percent fine isn’t enough for Paulo Costa’s incompetence

·Combat columnist
·5 min read
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LAS VEGAS — To listen to Paulo Costa tell the story, the UFC decided after arranging a middleweight bout for him with Marvin Vettori that just days before the match to change the weight class and throw the entire show into disarray.

Costa weighed 211 pounds on Wednesday, and didn’t sound the least bit apologetic for being 26 pounds over the maximum 186 pounds he would be allowed at Friday morning’s weigh-in.

Rather, he tried to sell the sorry story that the UFC came up with this lame-brained scheme.

“The UFC thought it would be better to be 195 or 200 because it would be a better fight, more exciting,” Costa told Yahoo Sports.

Wrong.

The UFC brass began to act after Costa manager Wallid Ismail informed them on Tuesday that Costa would not be able to make the weight. The UFC reached out to Vettori, who like a professional had already begun his cut. It wouldn’t be fair to Vettori to deplete himself while the UFC already knew that Costa not only couldn’t make it, but wasn’t going to try.

On Thursday, the UFC confirmed the bout will remain the main event of UFC Vegas 41 on Saturday at Apex at a catchweight of 195 pounds. Costa will surrender 20 percent of his purse to Vettori.

Costa was coy and wouldn’t reveal the reason he couldn’t make the weight.

Yahoo Sports said to him, “Paulo, it is your job to make weight. Why did you allow yourself to get to this point where on Tuesday you told UFC you wouldn’t be able to make it?”

Costa was doing the interview in English, which is his second language, and so he does deserve consideration for that. But there was an interpreter with him who translated questions he didn’t understand.

He understood that simple question because every fighter knows it is his or her job to make the contracted weight. Sometimes, a fighter’s body shuts down or they miscalculate or, for women, they’re on their period and they miss.

But to come in so heavy and basically five days before the event announce that one can’t make it is beyond arrogant. It’s better that he did tell the UFC and Vettori as early as possible to save Vettori from having to cut more than he’d need. An early notification like he gave would also help to prevent the possibility that the athletic commission would intervene and cancel the bout on weigh-in day.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - SEPTEMBER 27:  Paulo Costa of Brazil stands in his corner prior to facing Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their middleweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on September 27, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Paulo Costa's punishment for coming into fight week way overweight isn't severe enough. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Still, how Costa got to this point is a mystery and his answers are only aggravating.

“I think this is better [fighting at 195] for performance for the athletes,” Costa said. “To me, everything is going well.”

That’s beyond arrogant for him to say. He needs a significant dose of humility, and to apologize for not living up to the professional standards that virtually every other fighter does.

When he was pressed, he didn’t care much to elaborate.

“Some of it was the travel, a lot of things,” he said. “There were things happening, but I don’t want to talk about it now. I’ll tell after the fight.”

The 20 percent fine will hurt, but it’s not enough. The UFC needs to pull him from its rankings. This isn’t a situation that can be tolerated long term, and Costa had everyone, including the UFC, Vettori, television partner ESPN and the fans over a barrel, because the fight promises to be so compelling.

A Costa-Vettori fight gets the blood boiling and the heart racing. It’s a consequential fight at middleweight — at least it was — that would have great significance in the title chase.

Costa knew that the UFC did not want to lose the bout; nor did ESPN.

If you look at this, he surrendered 20 percent of his purse to fight at the weight he wanted.

He needs to pay a bigger price for that. So drop him from the rankings, and essentially make him ineligible to fight for the championship.

It’s only a symbolic move, because the UFC always reserves the right as the promoter to put together the matches it wants, but when you blatantly disrespect the contract you sign as Costa has done, there need to be steeper consequences.

Dumping Costa from the rankings until he makes the 186-pound limit at least twice should be a no-brainer. How many times have you heard a fighter on the microphone in the Octagon after a win pleading to be ranked? Many sacrifice a great deal just to reach that goal.

Costa simply scoffed at those fighters’ efforts by not even trying and ignoring the contract he’d signed. He needed to arrive in Las Vegas weighing a lot less than 211 pounds, and the fact that he didn’t says much about him.

He arrogantly acts as if he’s the star in a suspense thriller and will hold everyone in the palm of his hand until late Saturday when he reveals what happened.

You know what? I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

Your job is to make weight, and whatever your reason is, it’s not good enough. If you were injured or ill, then you call the fight off because you’re not going to give the kind of performance that is expected of the No. 2-rated contender anyway.

This can’t be tolerated. Now, Marvin Vettori has to suffer because of Costa’s incompetence.

That’s not fair in any world or on any planet, and he needs to feel a lot of pain as a result.