Antonio Carlos Junior Seeks Justice in Challenge to Paulo Costa

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Antonio Carlos Junior
Image Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Antonio Carlos Junior has a bone to pick with the UFC rankings committee and he wants to settle their differences by taking his frustration out on rising middleweight and compatriot Paulo Costa. Following his victory over Uriah Hall, Paulo Costa rose to #8 in the rankings while Carlos Junior fell outside of the top 10 to #12. Carlos Junior asserts that while he feels the rankings are inaccurate, he respects Costa as a fighter:

“I watched the recent fight between Paulo Costa and Uriah Hall,” Carlos Junior said to MMAjunkie. “It was a great fight! Both men stood toe-to-toe, and Paulo came off with another win by knockout. Awesome. Congrats to him. And now, Paulo is being touted as the next big thing. Maybe he will confirm that. I have simply nothing against this young man. He is just doing his job. But how could it be that he is ranked, above me, for example?”

After establishing that his grievance was not brought on by a personal vendetta, Junior would then move to presenting his evidence:

“I was the ‘TUF: Brazil 3’ heavyweight champ. I am now 9-2 in the UFC, with five wins by submission, and I have fought very tough customers along the way! Like I said, nothing whatsoever against ‘Borrachinha,’ but something is way out of line here. This young man has fought only four times. I have more submission wins then he has fights in the UFC.”

Paula Costa is coming off a TKO win over Uriah Hall at UFC 226 while Carlos Junior’s last outing saw the Brazilian score a submission victory over Tim Boetsch at UFC on Fox 29 to bump his win streak up to five.

“I am a competitor,” said Carlos Junior. “Before I ever stepped into an MMA cage, I was already a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there are no rankings – you’re either first, second or third, depending on your results. You have to win. It doesn’t matter how good you look, how shredded your body is – the only thing that brings you a world championship is winning.

“I think that this way of measuring fighters is lopsided. Who are the people creating these rankings? What do they really understand about fighting? How many times do we see fighters go up and down the rankings without even fighting? Rankings need to be based on merit, not on spectators’ momentary excitement.”

Although Carlos Junior sits with more questions than answers about the ranking system, he is not blind to the fact that they do matter in a major way:

“At the end of the day, these rankings influence many things in my life: Who I fight, how much I make, how high up on the card my fight is,” Carlos explained. “It’s simply not fair. Even worse, it’s bizarre. MMA is now a mainstream sport. It’s not pro wrestling. It’s real fighting. As Dana White used to say: As real as it gets.

“So I wonder why, if it is as real as it gets, how we could find ourselves with a measuring stick, a ranking system, that’s about as phony as Spider-Man?”

Ultimately, Carlos Junior does not wish to win the intellectual argument. He wants to prove his case by defeating Paulo Costa to demonstrate that he is the better fighter and thereby force the rankings to reflect that. And as it happens, Carlos Junior has just the place to do it:

“I heard Dana responding to a journalist that he might consider Paulo Costa for the main event in Sao Paulo? I think I deserve that spot, so let me fight Paulo Costa in that main event. Justice will be served. If he can beat me, then – and only then – can he be ranked above me.”

What do you think? Should Paulo Costa be ranked above Antonio Carlos Junior?