One of the most hyped fights of 2020 was UFC 253’s main event: middleweight champion Israel Adesanya vs. top contender Paulo Costa. For months, UFC president Dana White had billed it as the fight he was most excited to see.
Many believed that the contest would be an all-out war but that wasn’t the case at all.
The battle of undefeated fighters ended with the Brazilian losing his “0”. Adesanya pummeled “Borrachinha” on the feet and finished him in the second round via TKO, emphatically putting the stamp on their rivalry for now.
But according to Costa, there’s a major reason he didn’t perform the way many thought he would.
During a video Costa shared on YouTube Saturday, he spoke about his fight with Adesanya. Because they fought in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Costa and “The Last Stylebender” fought on the morning of September 27 so North American fans could watch the event during the normal Saturday night pay-per-view time slot.
Costa admitted in Portuguese that because he wasn’t able to fall asleep the night before his fight, he drank an entire bottle of wine to try and “blackout.”
“I was kind of drunk [when] I fought, maybe, on hangover,” Costa said as transcribed by MMA Fighting. “I couldn’t sleep because of the [leg] cramps. Keep in mind that the fight happens at 9 a.m. [local time], we have to wake up at 5 to get ready, stretch, wrap the hands. The UFC told us to wake up at 5 in the morning to go to the arena to fight. I hadn’t slept until 2:30.
“It was my mistake and I don’t blame anyone else, it was something I chose [to do], but, in order to try to sleep, because I had to sleep since I was awake for 24 hours, I had wine, too much wine, a bottle [of wine] to try to blackout. I had a glass and didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all.”
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Costa Said He Shouldn’t Have Fought Because of the State He Was in, But Was Still Very Confident He Could Defeat Adesanya
During the video, Costa promised fans that he plans on going back to “the same Paulo,” head hunting and looking for a KO victory.
“Aside from the Adesanya fight where many things happened, many factors that didn’t allow me to get there well, it will be the same Paulo of always, going for the knockout at all times,” Costa said via MMA Fighting. “That’s who I am. I haven’t changed. The thing is, I was 20, 10 percent of my capacities in the Adesanya fight. We had to change the strategy in the locker room. ‘Don’t attack him, just wait for the first two rounds,’ which was a mistake. Today we know that was a mistake, but talking is easy.”
Costa said that he shouldn’t have fought The Last Stylebender in that condition. “But, I’ll say it again, I was very confident,” he continued. “I wanted to fight, I thought I could do it. I just think the strategy was wrong, to not attack him.”
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Costa Returns to Action in April Against Robert Whittaker
Borrachinha is ready to bounce back as he is set to fight former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC Fight Night 189 on April 17.
Whittaker has won both his subsequent fights since dropping the title to Adesanya in October 2019 and he’s on the cusp of a rematch with The Last Stylebender. And should Costa defeat Whittaker, he will firmly establish himself at the top of the UFC’s 185-pound division.