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Hot Tweets: Paulo Costa’s terrible, horrible weight cut, and UFC Vegas 41

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UFC Fight Night: Costa v Vettori weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

It’s good to be back!

Hot Tweets has been absent the last few weeks as I’ve had a string of weddings to attend/officiate. Fortunately, this all came during a very dull stretch of fight cards (for the most part) where the most talked about thing was a cornerman using *gasp* swear words! But even though things have mostly been mundane and the cards this weekend are more of the same, you fine folk still have questions and I have the answers. Let’s boogie.


Paulo Costa and the change in weight class

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Paulo Costa arrived in Las Vegas with seemingly no intention of making the 185-pound weight limit. This has led to two things. First, his fight with Marvin Vettori was changed to a light heavyweight bout. Second, Vettori was, understandably, none too pleased.

These are two very good questions, with one much more difficult to answer than the other, so let me answer them separately. For the first one, I have no friggin’ clue what goes on in the head of Paulo Costa, but based on the various asinine stuff he posts on Twitter, I’m going to assume the answer is “Not a lot.” He clearly didn’t think things through coming into this weekend.

Some people have suggested that this was all a brilliant bit of gamesmanship by Costa, who now gets the benefits of being massively overweight without having to severely dehydrate himself and sure, in some very simplistic world, that’s what happened here but it came at a price. Costa got 20 percent of his fight purse docked and looks like the world’s biggest moron. Neither of those things are good for a fighter’s profile, and you know what is even worse? He put the UFC in a tough situation, and though the UFC may be terrible at doing their actual jobs (promoting fighters), they excel at getting even with fighters that they dislike (just ask Yair Rodriguez once Max Holloway finishes dissecting him like an eighth-grade biology lab frog).

As for the question of Costa’s ability: this may be a bit of a hot take but no, Paulo Costa is not elite. In fact, he might not be very good at all. Just look at Costa’s resume. Costa has wins over two very middling middleweights, fat, washed Johny Hendricks, and then Uriah Hall and Yoel Romero, the two guys who are the most likely to randomly lose to someone who sucks because they just kinda won’t do anything. And even then, Romero should’ve beaten Costa! He was then humiliated by Israel Adesanya in what may be the most deflated I’ve seen a human being since Anderson Silva entered the Matrix against Forrest Griffin. None of that screams “world-class middleweight” to me.

Look, Costa almost certainly doesn’t suck. He’s huge and powerful and athletic and that counts for a lot in MMA, especially at middleweight. But he’s a damn sight from elite. Fortunately for him, most of the middleweight division is too.


Costa vs. Vettori

Regardless of weight class, Marvin Vettori is going to kick the sh*t out of Paulo Costa.

Costa and Vettori are similar fighters in that they are both enormous (here used both to describe their physical dimensions and to modify the ensuing noun) meatheads whose primary skill is being an enormous meathead who likes to come forward. Unfortunately for Costa, Vettori is better at it.

Costa is a powerful puncher who works the body but he’s also the classic bully fighter, meaning he can be dissuaded from coming forward if he feels he’s losing, as we saw against Adesanya. Vettori has no such awareness in him. Vettori will continue to barge headlong into enemy fire, over and over and over, until he gets the takedown or the final horn sounds, at which point he will believe he has won. You’ll notice I didn’t allow for Vettori to get knocked out in this scenario because Vettori’s chin, like his will and refusal to listen to reason, is made of stone. This bodes poorly for “Borrachinha.”

This fight is going to be like watching lava from a volcano destroy a car or a fence. Or a hydraulic press smash a coconut. It will honestly be kinda boring but also sort of mesmerizing.


Costa at 205

My guess is after he loses to Vettori he will try to “mix it up” by going up to light heavyweight. The problem is 205, though a deplorable hive of mediocrity and bad cardio, actually may still be better than the middleweight division, at least at the top of it. I don’t like Costa’s chances against almost anyone in the rankings right now, meaning he’ll need to put down the wine and maybe hire a nutritionist to keep this from happening in the future.


A good question

Because logic and reason have no place in this sport, Jason. Also, when there is money involved, people will do anything they can to gain an edge and most people believe that bigger is better. There is no good, effective way to enforce a “no cutting weight” rule so here we are.


The quality of the recent Fight Night cards

Because the UFC does not care at all about the quality of their Fight Night cards. They care that the main event is something that can at least reasonably be considered “noteworthy” and the rest of it is cannon fodder to meet quotas and fill air time. I mean, think about it, there are only so many “good fights” to be made in MMA. Why would they waste those for cards that they aren’t going to market or promote? Saturday Fight Nights are not sold to fans, so the quality of them does not matter. They are just the sporting event that is on that night and if you’ve got nothing else to do, you can choose between that or Con Air over on USA. Personally, I never get tired of hearing Nick Cage’s horrendous Southern accent, but that’s just me.

PPV is where the money is made and Fight Night cards they get a flat rate for. Technically, they also get a flat rate for PPVs as well, but that rate is determined by yearly averages for PPVs so they UFC is still incentivized to put on high selling PPV cards. The best way to sell more PPVs is either to have one big fight on top like Conor McGregor (which is why McGregor fight cards tend to be fairly shallow in terms of other name value) but there are only so many actual needle movers in the UFC. So the next best plan is to bundle a bunch of good fights together to increase interest. It’s like that scene in The Big Short. PPVs are AAA-rated mortgage bonds. Fight Night cards are the sub-prime pieces of sh*t cobbled together from the leftovers.


Contender Series

I think this is what happens any time you undercut unions. You’re replacing experience, skilled labor with unexperienced, worse labor and the product usually declines dramatically. There’s an old saying: “You get what you pay for,” and the UFC has been consistently letting veteran talent walk away over the last few years to be replaced by an endless string of 10/10ers. But hey, gotta fill up those subprime Fight Nights. WME has bills to pay.


Philosophy

Bean bag chair.


The greatest light heavyweight in the world

Compete? Absolutely. Win? Possibly.

I’m not going to dive into Scott Coker saying a very dumb thing about us living in a time where Corey Anderson could potentially be “the greatest light heavyweight in the world.” He’s a promoter and that’s his job. Until such time as he loses, Jan Blachowicz is the best 205er alive (considering he, you know, obliterated Corey Anderson last year). But Vadim Nemkov is a legitimate talent who can give anyone in the world a good fight, and beat most of them. I would love to watch him fight the best guys in the UFC. I know he and Jiri Prochazka already fought but that was six years ago and still early in Nemkov’s career. I hope we get to see the rematch one day.


Norma Dumont is a winner

And finally we come to Norma Dumont defeating Aspen Ladd last weekend in a fight that most people would rather forget ever happened.

I’m not going to dive too deep into “corner-gate” except to say that I can’t believe it was a story that a a coach used some profanities while talking to his fighter in an attempt to motivate her. While there are many things to question about Jim West - Did he had any other technical advice to offer besides “throw more than one punch,”?; Does he sing the Wild Wild West theme song to himself when he’s driving? - but exasperatedly asking his fighter what she’s waiting for isn’t one of them. I’m pretty sure most people watching the fight were wondering the same thing.

Anyway, on the other side of things, Norma Dumont picked up yet another win. Sure, it wasn’t one to write home about but Aspen Ladd is a legitimately good fighter and a win is a win. Unfortunately for her, all of her UFC wins have come at featherweight which isn’t a real division that the organization supports, but still. The UFC seemingly has no plan to shutter the division either, preferring to leave it in a permanent state of limbo until such time as either Amanda Nunes retires or they sign Kayla Harrison, and so Dumont now finds herself as the probable frontrunner to get the next crack at Nunes once “The Lionness” eviscerates Julianna Pena. Nunes wants to stay busy and I can’t see them pulling the trigger and a trilogy bout with Valentina Shevchenko just yet, so Dumont has next.


Fedor Emelianenko

In a fair and just world, Fedor Emelianenko would knock out Timothy Johnson today, and then Francis Ngannou would teleport into the cage and Fedor would knock him out as well, before donning the Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory and ascending to the pantheon of Myths and Legends, like the world’s most violent Santa Claus. Instead, he’s probably going to get knocked out by Timothy friggin’ Johnson and then continue fighting for another couple of years because the MMA gods are horrible bastards.

I hate this sport that we all love.


Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least tacitly related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.