Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight Paulo Henrique Costa is fast becoming of the most feared 185-pound fighters in the division.
Costa faced Uriah Hall on the preliminary card at UFC 226 on July 7 and Costa showed why his previous knockout of former welterweight Johny Hendricks back in November was no fluke. Costa was relentless against Hall and when the Brazilian smelled blood in the second round, he unloaded on Hall until the referee pulled him off.
Costa is a big, overly muscular middleweight and against Hall he looked like a light heavyweight. The size of Costa has some fans, including surfing legend Kelly Slater, who believe the Brazilian is taking some sort of banned substance to achieve that kind of physique.
Slater commented on the UFC’s Instagram page about “The Eraser” after his big win at UFC 226, accusing Costa of being “juiced.”
”Didn’t Cung Le get caught because he looked suspect in a photo after a fight?” Slater wrote. “Costa makes Yoel’s physique look almost attainable. If this guy ain’t juiced they shouldn’t bother testing at all.”
Costa took exception to the comments by Slater labelling them as “completely ignorant,” especially considering Costa has been tested 19 times since joining the UFC in 2017 while never failing a test for banned substances according to the USADA’s official website.
“Kelly Slater talked too much, said stupid things,” Costa told MMA Fighting. “He doesn’t understand how the anti-doping system works in the UFC, he doesn’t know how USADA works, doesn’t understand the USADA policy of testing any fighter at any moment anywhere in the world, blood and urine.
”We do random tests all the time, so if someone says a UFC fighter is fighting on the juice, to me that someone is completely ignorant about MMA, UFC, antidoping and USADA.”
It’s not the first time Costa has been accused of cheating and the unbeaten middleweigh, who improved his UFC record to 4-0, says he is bothered by the accusations considering how hard he’s worked to get the physique he has.
“It does bother me because people talk without knowing,” Costa said. “They judge me because I have a good physique, an excellent condition, and think I got this by cheating instead of hard work, diet, effort and sacrifice. I keep working really hard, so it bothers me because they diminish my work and effort. But I know where my results come from, so my conscience is clear.”
Costa said he was happy with his win over Hall and believes the manner of the victory means he is “here to dominate, not to be just another one.” The Brazilian admitted that Hall exposed a few holes in his game which he will work on before his next fight.
“Hall is a great fighter, experienced, has many fights, and knows how to use his reach,” Costa said. “He has already knocked out some great fighters, like (Gegard) Mousasi and many others, so he definitely came different this time and was able to hit me and hurt me. That was good because it showed me I can still get better, fix some details and flaws. I’m already working on them.”
While Costa wants his next fight to be against former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, fans are hopeful that a fight against another young rising undefeated star, New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya eventuates.
“I asked for a fight with Weidman because he’s ranked higher,” Costa said. “Fans might wanna see me fight Adesanya because we’re two exciting fighters. Adesanya is a striker and so am I, and that’s what fans like. We’re both undefeated. If I were a fan I would also like to see that fight, but the best scenario possible is a fight with Weidman. Not because it’s the easier fight, but because it takes me higher.
“I still believe I’m the most powerful striker in my division. Dare I say, even at light heavyweight,” Costa continued, adding that he’s open to moving up to 205 pounds one day in the future. “I’m sure that if I fought Adesanya he would get knocked out, I believe in the first round. Weidman has good chances of being knocked out as well.”
Costa said he hopes the UFC pairs him up against Weidman in November at the UFC 230 card at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I want to come back, fix the holes,” Costa said, “And work on my wrestling to keep the fight standing and knock Weidman out in November.”