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Paulo Costa gambled with the UFC on contract negotiation — and won

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Paulo Costa is one of the fastest-rising Brazilian stars in the UFC today, and being too confident in his abilities proved to be very lucrative for him.

Hoping to be matched against Yoel Romero in January after the No. 1-ranked middleweight turned down a fight at the November Madison Square Garden card to heal from an orbital bone fracture, Costa told the media how he bet on himself early in his UFC run.

“The Eraser” signed with the UFC in 2017 and made quick work of Garreth McLellan in his debut at UFC Fortaleza. He came back to the Octagon three months later at UFC 212, stopping Oluwale Bamgose in the second round.

Costa says he was offered a new UFC deal after that win in Rio de Janeiro, but wasn’t happy with the number the company presented him.

”The UFC called me to renew my contract in my second fight, after I won by knockout at UFC Rio. They called me, which is something unusual,” Costa said during a UFC media day on Tuesday. “I had a four-fight contract, and I thought ‘well, they see a different value in me.’

”I asked for a high number, they said ‘this is way above what we usually pay, so let’s make a deal.’ They proposed the Hendricks fight and then we would negotiate. I said ‘OK, but after that I will ask for more.’ They did this bet with me. If I had lost the fight, (the number) would possibly be lower than they had offered.”

Costa was booked to face former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks at the UFC 217 card in New York four months after his win in Rio, and scored another second-round knockout.

”I won and asked what I wanted before,” he said, “and we did some negotiations and renewed the contract.”

According to Costa, he eventually got more than he had previously asked, “more than 100 thousand dollars,” but declined to say how many fights he has in his current contract with the promotion.

In his most recent Octagon win, a second-round knockout over Uriah Hall in Las Vegas, Costa’s disclosed pay was $110,000 ($55,000 + $55,000). He also pocketed an extra $50,000 check for one of the best performances of the night.

The Brazilian middleweight is 12-0 as a professional fighter with 12 stoppage wins, and believes that his impressive performances led to him make such good money only four fights into his UFC career.

”We have to go step by step,” Costa said. “It’s hard to imagine four steps ahead. I thought it would be fast, but with the moment the division is going through and me showing my superiority in the fights, it was faster than an average prediction. But I didn’t do a prediction before of how much I wanted to make.

”Fighters can’t be inhibited, too humble. There’s no humility in the fighting game,” he continued. “If you are confident, you have to say it, otherwise you’re being fake if you believe in something and say you don’t. I think it’s important to show who you are. People want to see that. Nobody wants to see a loser, everybody wants to see someone who believes in himself and proves he’s right.”

Costa has been criticized by some for his style outside the cage, being confident and provocative at times, but he pays no attention to that.

”I don’t try to please people. If you’re pleasing some people, you will displease others,” Costa said. “You can’t try to please people. I realized that the path to follow is to be yourself. If you’re confident, be confident. If you’re not, if you’re shy, be you. Don’t try to force something you’re not because people can see that and it gets too fake and artificial. Be who you are. Some will like, others won’t.”

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