The Weight Cutting Chronicles: UFC Vegas 41 — The Paulo Costa Special

Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa
Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight,’ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters even in excess of 30 pounds.

Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, we will shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups. Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game.

Paulo “The Eraser” Costa (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC)

Middleweight (185lbs): 5-1, Former UFC Middleweight Title Challenger, TUF Brazil Season 3 compettior

Catchweight (195lbs): Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa verbally agreed to fight at 195lbs and as of Thursday afternoon (10/21) it is official.

Light heavyweight (205lbs): Vettori said he was also open to fighting at 205lbs.


Paulo Costa has fought at 185lbs for the overwhelming majority of his professional MMA career. Costa has fought at middleweight for at least 13 out of 16 fights, including his two fights on The Ultimate Fighter. The weight class that a fighter competed at on TUF is often an important metric/milestone as contestants pretty much have to stay on weight for the entirety of the multiple-month taping of the show. 

As far as I can tell Paulo has had at least one light heavyweight fight in his professional career. It came way back in 2013 on the regional circuit.

Save for his UFC debut and his title shot, Paulo Costa has never weighed in at exactly 185lbs or under; he has almost always used at least a half pound of his allotted grace pound.

Paulo Costa has never missed weight in the UFC. But, Costa claimed to weigh 212lbs less than 48 hours from weigh ins for UFC Vegas 41 and said he wont be cutting down to the 186lbs. limit. 

Factors to Consider

Paulo Costa stands at 6’1″ tall and has a 72″ reach. This isn’t a huge frame for a middleweight but because of the way that Costa is built he has a lot of weight to cut. The main reason Costa struggles with the weight cut is obviously his extremely muscular build. Combined with the fact that Costa is now 30 years old, the age where the human body’s metabolism begins to slow, and its not hard to see why he might have trouble getting down to 185lbs.

A super memorable fight in Paulo Costa’s career was his barn burner fight against Yoel Romero in 2019. Yoel Romero (6’0″, 73.5″) long described as the athletic freak of the UFC and one of the most jacked guys that you will ever see, actually looked human. And, dare I say, small? Costa came into the fight on fight night weighing in at 214lbs, gaining almost 15% of his body weight back in a single night. As a result, California State Athletic Commission recommended that Costa move up to 205lbs. And Costa has also got into a little trouble with the NYSAC for using IV’s to rehydrate after weigh ins for UFC 217.

Costa sustained a bicep injury in 2019 which could have contributed to him adding on more weight to his frame during the recovery process.

Another factor in Costa struggling with a cut to middleweight is the fact that he has not fought in over a year, since his title fight against Israel Adesanya. Apparently, Costa has also had COVID-19 two times which could easily keep him away from training and keeping excess weight off.

Paulo Costa underwent a hair transplant surgery in June of 2021. That specific transplant has a recovery timeline of about 1 month before it is recommended to return strenuous activity.

Costa has confirmed that he walks around close to 220lbs during fight camp, which is pretty crazy. But if I had to guess, outside of camp, Costa probably walks around north of 235lbs.


Costa seems to want to stay in the middleweight division for as long as he possibly can. Seeing as Costa comes from a grappling background, this isn’t exactly a surprise because that is where most of the dramatic weight cut philosophies are rooted in. Costa currently has a great ranking, and with a couple of impressive wins could find himself right back in front of Israel Adesanya for another title shot.

But hopefully Costa can take inspiration from guys like Thiago Silva (6’2″, 76″) and Anthony Smith (6’4″, 76″), who have abandoned excessive weight cuts to the middleweight division and instead opted to move up to light heavyweight. Even though Costa gives up height and length to both men, it’s not like there haven’t been shorter guys at light heavyweight or even heavyweight to find great success (cough, DC). Both Silva and Smith moved up to light heavyweight and within three fights were fighting for the title. The UFC is very shallow at 205lbs so a move up would not be the end of the world and could truly yield some very positive results.

Costa will likely continue to try and stay at middleweight but even if he makes weight in the future fans can expect him to continually have less energy during training camp and become more and more susceptible to big shots on fight night.


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