The main event features Italy’s Vettori attempting to right the ship after suffering a decision loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Meanwhile, the #2-ranked Costa is also returning to action after having lost to the middleweight titleholder as well. With more than a year away from the Octagon, questions surrounding Costa’s conditioning will be answered at UFC Vegas 41.
The two combatants have vastly different styles. Brazil’s Costa made a name for himself with a heavy hand and forward pressure. Costa’s imposing run to the middleweight title challenge was downright scary. Each time Costa entered the Octagon, destruction seemed inevitable.
Though, after his contest with Adesanya and his first loss with the promotion (outside of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 3 decision loss), the former title challenger circled his wine drinking as one of the reasons for the defeat. Ahead of the contest, Vettori admits he’s baffled by Costa’s latest behavior.
Paulo Costa’s Path To UFC Vegas 41
As the opener for the legendary UFC 217: Bisping vs. St. Pierre pay-per-view, Costa established his name among hardcore fans quickly with a blistering second round finish of Johny Hendricks.
Despite periods of respite or inactivity, Costa’s UFC appearances were violent and decisive. Next on his path of destruction was a motivated Uriah Hall. Once again showcased on a massive card, Paulo Costa made the most of his UFC 226 appearance.
The middleweight handled business and scored a TKO in the second round. Similar to his previous bouts, his style pressure cooked the opponent in the first round and then executed his path to victory in the second round.
From his UFC inception in 2017, Paulo Costa’s knockout power shook the very foundation of the middleweight division. In his initial four contests, each opponent would crumble under his violent forward pressure. With a 100% finishing rate at the time, many were on board when the promotion announced that his next fight would be with fellow brawler Yoel Romero.
After besting Romero by decision, Paulo Costa met Israel Adesanya in Sept. of 2020. A series of feints stopped Costa from his style of prodding forward. It seemed the different looks the champion was giving off began to confuse the challenger. In the second round, “The Last Stylebender” finished who many thought would be his most challenging test to date.
At UFC Vegas 41, Paulo Costa can reinstate himself as a viable title contender with a commanding win against Marvin Vettori. If the champion couldn’t finish Vettori in their last bout, certainly if Costa can get the job done, he will be on the short-list for gold.
Marvin Vettori’s Path To UFC Vegas 41
Making his UFC debut in 2016, Marvin Vettori’s ceiling seemed to be up there with the best. Before his MMA game was met with maturation, the Italian contender faced Israel Adesanya before he exploded into UFC superstardom. The 2018 contest was much closer than their most recent bout, with Adesanya narrowly getting the victory.
In their initial encounter, Adesanya met his first legitimate challenge in the UFC when Marvin Vettori’s wrestling pressure began to take over the fight’s narrative. “The Last Stylebender” would find success in their first fight with a split-decision victory that Vettori lamented until his second opportunity came in 2021.
Despite fighting Adesanya a second time, Vettori struggled to inflict damage again. The middleweight obviously made vast improvements in his striking development. However, his pressure was unable to keep the champion honest and Adesanya won by unanimous decision.
With both combatants at UFC Vegas 41 facing losses to the current champion, the fight will display who can handle career adversity and move forward. The wrestling activity of Marvin Vettori will be critical to achieving victory. Paulo Costa is a standup fighter. With the pace “The Italian Dream” sets in each UFC bout, the Brazilian native may have his hands full this weekend when he returns from a year-long layoff in a bout now scheduled for 205 pounds.
Prediction: Marvin Vettori def. Paulo Costa by unanimous decision
Who do you believe will win at UFC Vegas 41?