Paulo Costa was handily beaten by middleweight champion Israel Adesanya when he fought him for the title last year, but now the hard-hitting Brazilian has given an unexpected excuse for why he wasn’t performing at his best on that night.
“I was kind of drunk [when] I fought, maybe, on hangover,” Costa said on his YouTube channel. “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 black out. I had a glass and didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all.”
Before the loss to Adesanya, Costa had been in seemingly unstoppable form, going 13-0 and defeating the likes of Johnny Hendricks, Uriah Hall and Yoel Romero on his way to the title shot.
Now Costa will look to get back on the horse with a fight against former champion Robert Whittaker in April, and he plans to go back to the all-action style that saw him rack end all but one of his fights inside the distance.
“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. “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 the strategy in the lockerroom. ‘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.
“The right thing would have been not fighting the way I was, because I was different. I was different because I was in horrible conditions. I didn’t sleep, I had leg cramps all the time, before walking out to the octagon, in the lockerroom. There are many things we can say, but won’t be the case for this video. But the athletic commission came to the lockerroom twice to check my leg, to remove the oil we had on it to have a massage. But, I’ll say it again, I was very confident. I wanted to fight, I thought I could do it. I just think the strategy was wrong, to not attack him.”