UFC Vegas 41: Fight Week Drama Raises Interest in Costa vs. Vettori

Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori, UFC Vegas 41
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 22: (L-R) Opponents Paulo Costa of Brazil and Marvin Vettori of Italy face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 22, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Paulo Costa’s weight cutting drama has led to polarizing feelings regarding his previously high stakes bout with Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 41.

As intriguing a contender as Paulo Costa was leading up to his title shot last year, he has become arguably even more talked about in the months since.  He has provided plenty of internet fodder, blaming too much wine for his poor performance against Israel Adesanya and frequently taking to Twitter to say outlandish things to stay in the spotlight.  But this week’s turn of events have brought things to a whole other level.  The public was alerted that something was amiss on Wednesday as Marvin Vettori said he was given a clue that Costa was far from the weight limit.  Sure enough, Costa would speak to the media to say he was 211 pounds, over 20 pounds from the 186 pound limit he would need to make on Friday morning.  After much discussion behind the scenes, the bout went from being contracted for 195 pounds on Thursday afternoon to being changed a final time to 205 pounds shortly before weigh ins.

The debacle has left a sour taste in the mouth of fans.  Previously, the winner of Saturday’s bout was expected to be a top three contender in the stacked middleweight title picture.  Now, the entire fiasco will discredit any impressive great performance Costa may put on.  The UFC has consistently stood by the statement that the show must go on, which is why Saturday’s main event has undergone so many changes.  That said, how Costa is matched up with in his next outing will likely show exactly how the UFC feels about the entire situation.

In May after being convincingly routed by Adesanya for the middleweight title, Marvin Vettori drew criticism for stating that he felt he was the winner in a fight where he verbally disagreed with his corner when they told him he was losing in-between rounds.  Months later, “The Italian Dream” stands by his comments that he was the better fighter that night.  Despite how the public may feel about his comments, the fact remains he entered the bout as one of the top contenders in the middleweight division.

Should he defeat Costa, he will be 6-1 in his last seven fights and remain in prime position to fight for the belt should there be any shake up in the title picture.  Vettori has been praised for his composure amidst the changes this week, and an impressive performance on his part should still be lauded if he gets the victory.  While a path to the belt for him may not be clear as of this writing, there are plenty of high profile bouts that he could step into in the coming months if anything happens.

While the two promise fireworks should they collide in the middle of the Octagon, the wrestling and cardio of Vettori figure to give “The Italian Dream” the edge.  Costa’s success has largely come from his ability to use his physicality in fights, but Vettori physically is expected to be able to hold his own against “The Eraser.”  Costa will look to pressure Vettori do damage early and pressure him into the fence to keep him from setting up his more multi-faceted arsenal.  Vettori should look to use his boxing to set up takedowns to get Costa onto his back where his formidable offense is neutralized.  Vettori has shown in recent fights a competent ability to get fights to the ground and that could well be what he needs to dominate Costa for the victory.

More information must be revealed on Costa’s part to determine if he remains at middleweight following the entire fight week situation.  Should he move up, how highly the UFC regards him will be seen in who they match him up with.  A scenario where either Robert Whittaker or Derek Brunson holds the title would logically mean that Vettori would need only one more victory to earn another title shot at middleweight.  Should Israel Adesanya still be the one who holds it at year’s end, then the path for Vettori is expected to be longer.  In terms of potential opponents, Sean Strickland could be a possibility or Whittaker in mid-2022 should he come up short against Adesanya.


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