Costa made his unintended light heavyweight debut against Marvin Vettori on Saturday thanks to his much publicized weight cutting issues. During the week, the Brazilian declared that he wasn’t going to make the middleweight limit, which saw the fight moved to a 195-pound catchweight, then to the 205-pound light heavyweight limit.
Despite Costa’s shenanigans leading into the UFC Vegas 41 main event, the fight was an instant classic. The 30-year-old came close to finishing Vettori with a brutal head kick in round two, but the Italian absorbed Costa’s best shots, and landed plenty of devastating strikes of his own to grind out a unanimous decision victory.
Dana White Declares Costa’s Future Is At Light Heavyweight
Leading into the fight, some speculated that Costa’s increased bulk would see him gas early on. And while Paulo did seem to be breathing heavily during the five-round war, his best round was arguably the last.
Speaking at the UFC Vegas 41 post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White said he was impressed by “Borrachina’s” performance, despite him failing to make weight. And when asked why he didn’t, White said even he didn’t know.
“No, your guess is as good as mine,” said White. “Yeah, we don’t know. Came in and did what he did. But with that being said, the guy fought his ass off tonight. At the end of the first round, I didn’t know if he was gonna make it to the end of the second round as far as gas, but he fought his ass off tonight, and he showed up and fought hard.”
So given Costa failed to make weight so spectacularly, does his future lie in the 205-pound division?
“Yeah, we absolutely tell you where to fight when this happens. Yeah, he’s gonna have to fight at 205,” said White.
Dana said that it’s not only Paulo’s struggles with weight cutting that make him destined for the light heavyweight division, but also that he carried his bulked-up physique so well.
“He’s a light heavyweight,” said White. “I mean, you guys saw him tonight. He’s massive. And the thing that stood out the most for me: as big as he is, look at the cardio that he had tonight. That was a fuckin’ dog fight. That was a war between two guys who both really wanted to win.”
The move up to light heavyweight may not be in Costa’s plans, however. Backstage, the 30-year-old told media that middleweight is his division, and when White was apprised of this statement, it drew a wry smile.
“This is gonna be fun. [CHUCKLE] I promise you it’s not,” said White.
What do you think? Is a move up to light heavyweight the right one for Paulo Costa?