After a week full of drama and surprises, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori delivered a brilliant main event at UFC Vegas 41.
The two were scheduled to face off in a middleweight main event bout in the Las Vegas Apex, only for Costa to reveal during fight week media obligations that he wouldn’t be able to make the weight.
Vettori and Costa then verbally agreed to a 195lbs catchweight bout, before the fight finally got moved again to 205lbs the day before weigh-ins.
With Vettori now a fan favourite for refusing to let the fight get scrapped and wanting a war with one of the best strikers in the UFC, the two met an entire weight class above their usual division.
What followed was a brilliant fight in which Vettori showed his incredible granite chin to take the power shots of a humongous Costa in the cage, while also showing his cardio is among the best in the world with a 25-minute performance in which he earned a unanimous 48-46 decision across the scorecards.
Following the fight, in which Costa didn’t disgrace himself by any means, ‘Borrachina’ revealed a bicep injury was the reason he was unable to cut weight during fight week and said he hoped to return to 185lbs for his next fight.
UFC president Dana White had other ideas though seemingly, stating that Costa would be competing at 205lbs going forward. Speaking in the post-fight press conference, White said;
“Yeah, we absolutely tell you where to fight when this happens. Yeah, he’s gonna have to fight at 205.
He’s a light heavyweight. 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.”
Paulo Costa has admitted to media that he won’t be able to make the middleweight limit for his main event fight against Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 41 this weekend.
The two middleweight contenders are scheduled to fight each other in the main event on Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with both having been defeated by Israel Adesanya in their last outings.
But during media day interviews, Costa revealed that he currently weighs 211lbs and has no intentions of trying to weigh in at the agreed 186lbs limit for the bout.
Costa said that it is “not in his plans” to go down to 186lbs for the fight and he is hopeful that Vettori will be willing to meet him in a catchweight bout instead.
The Italian responded in a joint interview with ESPN and Costa stating that he would fight him at any weight, but blasted ‘Borrachina’ for being unprofessional.
The two fighters verbally agreed a 195lbs catchweight during the interview and the UFC have since confirmed that the plan is now for the fight to proceed at a catchweight, although they haven’t announced if it will be at 195lbs.
Costa has been plagued by unprofessional episodes since losing his title fight against Adesanya at UFC 253 last October.
After that bout he claimed that he drank a bottle of wine the night before the fight as he couldn’t sleep, and said he wasn’t sober when in the cage.
The UFC Vegas 41 main event is set to be an absolute banger when knockout artist Paulo Costa takes on the machine that is Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division.
It’ll be the first time that Vettori has stepped into the cage since his UFC 263 defeat to Israel Adesanya, a rematch he had been clamouring for since their first fight in 2018.
That first bout was a split decision victory for the current 185lbs champion, but Vettori had always protested that he won the fight.
After some injury problems and over a year out, Vettori returned the following year and racked up a five-fight win streak in order to claim a title shot earlier this year.
In each of those fights, the Italian was able to completely dominate and overwhelm each of his opponents. He secured only the second finish of his UFC tenure so far when he choked out Karl Roberson in their grudge match, but aside from that has completely controlled fights from start to finish.
But against Adesanya in the rematch he failed to really show his tools. There was a lot of waiting, less of that overwhelming pressure that we’ve seen in the past and he wasn’t able to secure significant takedowns in the fight to get the fight where he wants it.
The power and accuracy of Adesanya’s striking warranted a slight change in game plan for sure, but Vettori disappointed his fans and himself with his performance that night.
Now, against a powerhouse like Costa who has 11 knockouts from 13 career wins, Vettori can look to put it right.
This is a chance for Vettori to step into the cage and deliver a performance that fans can go back to in the future as a sign of why he is among the best middleweights in the world.
He is missing that stellar win on his resume right now, that career defining moment. The UFC Vegas 41 main event is the chance for him to earn that and put himself on the map as being in the title conversation for the foreseeable future.
Before we start off, it should be made abundantly clear that anybody who steps into the octagon or any type of combat sports arena deserves the utmost respect just for getting in there.
When those men and women get in there at any level, it’s a credit to their talent, determination and dedication that they are able to achieve any sort of success in there.
So when a fighter makes it at the very highest level, it’s even more incredible and deserves even more respect and praise.
That’s why getting beyond the rankings and getting into the title contention in the UFC is such a hugely coveted achievement in the world of mixed martial arts and combat sports.
Brazilian middleweight Paulo Costa is one of those who has been able to do that, competing currently with a record of 13-1 professionally and 5-1 in the UFC up to this point.
Of his 13 professional wins, Costa has earned 11 knockout victories and one submission win with the only time he has ever reached the judge’s scorecards being in a brilliant win over Yoel Romero at UFC 241.
That brilliant form and momentum earned him a title shot against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, after months of back and forth between the two on social media and even face-to-face.
Costa promised a violent, knockout finish against his nemesis and while the fight delivered, it was he who lay in the centre of the octagon unconscious at the end of the second round.
There’s no shame in losing to Adesanya, who has proven himself to be one of the greatest strikers in UFC history throughout his tenure as champion at 185lbs. But the excuses and attitude of Costa following that fight are appalling.
The Brazilian first claimed he deserved an immediate rematch because he couldn’t sleep the night before and wasn’t feeling himself. He then admitted to drinking an entire bottle of wine to try and put himself to sleep and hinted that he may have been drunk while in the cage, hence his performance.
There were reports that he went into the fight injured after a tough camp too, before it became clear that he wouldn’t be getting another title shot any time soon.
The fights were announced by the UFC, only for Costa to withdraw just days later claiming he never signed a bout agreement and that he wanted more money to fight. The fight was scrapped and Cannonier fought Gastelum instead, winning also.
Throughout the process Costa has been vocal about fighting, but he only wants certain fights and has become the obnoxious big man who tries to bully his way to success.
It’s the age old question of what happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object. But for Costa, it’s about showing that he’s worth all the talk he’s been spewing over the last 13 months.
A win for ‘Borrachina’ will set him among the elites of the division undoubtedly and set him up in a position to claim a title shot at some point in 2022.
A loss though and all the respect he had goes out of the window and he becomes just another talker with power in the UFC.
UFC 268 has taken a hit after Luke Rockhold withdrew from his middleweight return bout againt Sean Strickland through injury.
The former 185lbs champion has been out of action since a knockout defeat to Jan Blachowicz back in 2019 after he moved up to light heavyweight.
He was however due to return back down to middleweight for a bout against number 7 ranked Strickland in New York at UFC 268 next month.
However after back and forth exchanges on social media between the two fighters, the fight will be shelved for now after Rockhold revealed he herniated a disc in training and will be unable to fight.
In a statement posted to his official Instagram account, the Team AKA affiliate said;
“There’s no easy way to really say it but the fight is off in New York.
“I ended up herniating a disc in my back, L4, L5, and the docs say it’s nothing I can play with. I need to do some treatment with some recovery time.
“Some things just aren’t meant to be. New York, motherfucking New York. Sorry to the friends and the family and the peeps and all the people but we’ll be back. Till next time.”
Rockhold won the championship against Chris Weidman back in 2015 but has since gone 1-3 in his professional career, losing the belt to Michael Bisping in his next bout.
Strickland has been on a tear since returning from a big injury himself and is currently on a five-fight win streak, with four victories since October 2020.
The 30-year-old responded to the news on his own Instagram comments section, claiming he never expected the fight to happen and revealing a sparring tale from between the two in the past.
“He was never going to make the fight lmao.. no one is surprised.
“I sparred him once and almost put him out.. didn’t even spar the second round, just walked out of the gym lmao.. I knew this wasn’t happening.”
The UFC are now searching for a new opponent for Strickland, although it’s not guaranteed that they will find one with much of the top end of the division already booked up or having recently fought.
UFC 268 will take place on November 6th from Madison Square Garden and will be headlined by two title fight rematches.
Kamaru Usman will defend his welterweight title against long-time rival Colby Covington while Rose Namajunas makes the first defence of her second strawweight reign when she takes on Weili Zhang again in the co-main event.
It’s now been revealed however that Adesanya and Whittaker will instead meet at UFC 271 in February following the booking of Ngannou vs Gane.
According to Brazilian outlet Combate, the UFC have moved the middleweight title fight to the following month in order to spread their title fights out a little bit for the new year.
Adesanya’s gym, City Kickboxing, are expecting to essentially relocate to the United States between now and the end of the year due to New Zealand’s quarantine rules, with several fighters desperate to fight but stuck with certain dates.
With the champion planning on moving to the USA he will be more readily available to fight and it seems the UFC are rewarding that by giving him a little extra time to prepare, while Whittaker won’t say no to that either.
The champion has a professional record of 21-1, with middleweight title fight wins over Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori. The only defeat of his career came at UFC 259 earlier this year when he was beaten by light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz as he moved up to try and become a double-champ.
Whittaker is 23-5 professionally but since moving to middleweight in 2014 is 11-1, with his only defeat coming when he lost the title to Adesanya in 2019. Since then he has gone 3-0, beating all of Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum via decision.
UFC 271 is scheduled to take place on February 12th 2022, although a location has yet to be confirmed.
The UFC is set to announce a double header of title fights for the opening pay-per-view even of 2022, headlined by a heavyweight title fight.
The heavyweight division has seen a new champion crowned and then an interim title created too in 2021, despite the champion being available but the belts will be unified on January 22nd 2022 when Francis Ngannou looks to defend his title for the first time against former teammate Ciryl Gane.
The event will be co-headlined by another of the company’s African champions, as Israel Adesanya will face off against the man he won the belt against in 2019 Robert Whittaker in a hotly anticipated rematch.
Francis Ngannou started the year in fantastic fashion, avenging a defeat to Stipe Miocic with a brilliant performance at UFC 260 which ended in a vicious second-round knockout.
Ngannou then went on a tour of his homeland with the belt, before looking for a potential date in September to defend his title – ideally against Jon Jones or Derrick Lewis.
However when the UFC insisted on an August date and Ngannou couldn’t do it, they instead pitted Lewis against the undefeated Gane in Texas for an interim title.
Gane picked Lewis apart and eventually secured a brutal knockout in the second-round of their UFC 265 main event to move the Frenchman to 3-0 in 2021 and 7-0 in the UFC.
The two former teammates will go head-to-head in the main event, with French outlet La Sueur reporting that a deal is close to being finalized.
It’s been widely reported also that in the co-main event Adesanya and Whittaker will once again do battle for the 185lbs title, a little over two years on from their first meeting.
The first time around Adesanya put in a dazzling performance to secure a second-round knockout win over the then undisputed champion. ‘Izzy’ has continued his excellent record at middleweight since, beating all of Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettorri most recently at UFC 263 in the division although he suffered the first and only defeat of his career to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 when he challenged for the light heavyweight title.
Whittaker has been flawless since the defeat to Adesanya, going 3-0 with wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum to secure himself a shot and set up a fight between the two best middleweight fighters in the world today.
UFC 270 will take place on January 22nd 2022, with Las Vegas expected to be the host location although that is not confirmed yet.
Cast your mind back to before UFC 259 in March 2021, when Israel Adesanya was on mission to become a dual-weight simultaneous world champion.
He was up against Jan Blachowicz in the light heavyweight division, having ruled over the middleweight division since his debut in February 2018 and as champion in October 2019.
But what he came up against was not only the legendary Polish Power of the 205lbs champion but also the excellent wrestling and grappling of a man bigger and stronger than him.
Fast forward a few months down the line and the man in line for the next title shot at Adesanya’s original weight class is a man who he’s fought before.
Marvin Vettori and Adesanya first met in April 2018 in the champions second fight with the organisation. It was a close fight that many saw Adesanya winning 29-28 on the scorecards, but one judge saw it differently. Officially the bout went down as a split decision win for Adesanya, but Vettori has held on to that lone wolf judge’s decision ever since.
As three years have passed both men have got better and better, with Vettori yet to lose since. He now comes into the fight against a puzzle that has finally been solved.
Adesanya went into the fight against Blachowicz with many expecting him to be too mobile and too fast and to use his incredible striking to get a knockout win. But as the fight went on and Blachowicz wouldn’t go away, those chances got slimmer and slimmer. Then the wrestling started and it was one-sided.
For Vettori, that is the dream. His stand-up isn’t world class like Adesanya’s but it’s not awful and if he is able to close the distance and get hold of the champion then he will feel he can get the takedown to implement his style of fighting.
Having fought each other before, they will both know the power and strength the other possesses and while Vettori did get Adesanya down in their first fight the Nigerian was able to get back to his feet eventually.
But after watching how Blachowicz dominated in March, Vettori will surely look to employ similar tactics. He will be more patient on the ground rather than rushing for a finish and while Adesanya is always dangerous on the feet, he never hurt Vettori in their first bout.
The aura of invincibility around Adesanya was gone as soon as Blachowicz took him down the first time in their fight. Now, it’s a chink in the armour of a phenomenal fighter and his next opponent is someone who can exploit it perfectly.
The blueprint is there and Vettori has all the tools to make it happen. No excuses, no complaints. The time is now, or he must forever hold his tongue in a conversation with ‘The Last Stylebender’.
Whittaker actually turned that fight down following his win over Gasteulm, with scheduling conflicts making it too hard to turn around and get a proper camp in for the desired date.
Cannonier is currently ranked at number four in the division, while Gastelum is ranked at number nine. A win for either man puts them into contention for a title shot in the near future, while a loss could plummet them further away from a shot than ever before.
Till and Brunson’s fight looks likely to be the next man to get a shot after Whittaker, with Adesanya previously name-checking Till as a future opponent while Brunson has previously been beaten by the champion but is currently riding a four-fight win streak after beating Kevin Holland in March.
It was revealed recently that the UFC are potentially looking at making a return to London in August, and it seems like that could be headlined by the returning Darren Till as he will fight Derek Brunson on August 14th pending medical clearance.
Till was supposed to face off against Vettori himself last month to determine the number one contender for Adesanya’s title, but the Briton broke his collarbone in training a little over a week out from the fight and was forced to withdraw.
Cannonier himself hasn’t been in the cage since UFC 254 when he fought Whittaker, being nullified to a complete halt as he saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end in the co-main event.
It will no doubt be an absolute banger of a fight, with both men having genuine one-punch knockout power to rely on while Costa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt too.
With Whittaker guaranteed the next title shot after Adesanya vs Vettori 2, these fights will go a long way to establishing the contender after that. The most impressive winner is likely to get the nod early next year, in a division that is shaping up beautifully with new contenders constantly emerging to fight the top dogs that are already established.
There is always the wildcard option of Kamaru Usman moving up to middleweight should Vettori or Whittaker be able to dethrone Adesanya, with the current welterweight champion admitting that a move up a weight-class could become an option should his fellow African no longer be the man holding the belt.