6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) / 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb) / Middleweight
Paulo Costa is, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining Middleweights right now. Although there are questions about whether he would move up to light-heavyweight for his next fights due to his trouble making weight. Costa cuts a lot of weight, and it would be interesting how he would fare among the bigger guys.
Costa started training with Muay Thai as his first martial art; his father was also a former MMA practitioner and eventually added BJJ in his arsenal. Costa competed in BJJ tournaments and is now a black belt.
He started his MMA career in Brazil, where he began with three straight TKO wins and was later chosen to be a contestant in the Ultimate Fighter Brazil but fell short. He lost against Marcio Alexandre Jr., and for that, he could not fight under the UFC banner just yet.
Costa went on to stack wins over in Brazil, and all of his wins ended via stoppage. He competed in Jungle Fight and eventually won the Jungle Fight Middleweight Champion; after one defense, he finally got a shot to fight in the UFC.
Going to the UFC, he had a record of 8-0 and all were stoppage win. His debut was against Garreth McLellan, where he finished the fight in under one round, earning him a performance of the night bonus.
His next fight was against Oluwale Bamgbose, where he also finished the fight via TKO. His first opponent that carried a big name was former UFC welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks.
The fight looked like two fighters competing at a different weight class, Costa was so much bigger, and Hendricks just had no tools to gain the respect of Costa. It was a one-sided beatdown until Hendricks’s body eventually gave up, and the referee has seen enough.
Hall vs Costa
Many said that Costa is still yet to prove whether he can compete with top middleweight contenders, so the UFC gave him Uriah Hall. It was also a fight that Costa faced adversity and went on to win the battle.
Hall was boxing beautifully, landing the jab on Costa and keeping a safe distance. It was working until Costa decided to walk down Hall and apply relentless pressure. Costa risked closing the space, but it was the only path to hit Hall, and it worked as he stopped Hall in the second round.
Romero vs Costa
A big step up in the rankings, as Costa was booked against former title contender Yoel Romero. It was an exciting fight as both were one of the most freakishly muscular middleweights the UFC has ever seen.
The fight was fireworks as expected, Costa landing bombs and even knocked down Romero in the first round. Costa did not fear Romero’s explosiveness, but he did get hit numerous times as well. Romero got better as the rounds went on, but it was a little too late as Costa managed to edge two rounds to three. It was a great fight overall, and Costa proved that he is ready for a title shot.
Adesanya vs Costa for the Title
Although injuries happened with Costa, delaying his title shot. The UFC finally booked Adesanya vs. Costa at UFC 253. Two undefeated fighters fighting for the title, it was an interesting match-up. There was also bad blood between the both of them; fans were excited to see the fight.
Unfortunately, it was a one-sided fight despite both having undefeated records. Adesanya utilized his long-range and highly technical striking to pick apart Costa. The leg kicks were also a huge factor in slowing Costa down. Costa did not want to get countered, so he avoided closing the distance, and as the fight went on, Costa attempted to be aggressive and got countered. Costa went down, and Adesanya went for the finish.
Costa vs Vettori
It was not until a year later that Costa decided to return; there were a lot of injuries and issues with the UFC that delayed his comeback fight. Eventually, he faced Marvin Vettori. A few days before the fight, Costa wanted a catchweight as he couldn’t make 185 on Fight Night.
Fighters were criticizing Costa for being unprofessional, but Vettori still agreed to fight. In the fight, Costa looked great landing bombs, but Vettori just had that granite chin where he won’t go down. Vettori also had his moments and just landed the better strikes all throughout. It was a back and forth war, with Vettori winning via decision.
After the fight, many were impressed with Costa’s performance at light-heavyweight. UFC President Dana White has said that he plans to make Costa fight at 205 rather than move back down.