clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dan Hooker calls Paulo Costa weight class gamesmanship ‘a massive F you’ to everyone

New, comments
Dan Hooker
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Having made weight for his most recent fight under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, Dan Hooker doesn’t have much sympathy for Paulo Costa’s recent weight crisis.

Ahead his main event clash with Marvin Vettori this past Saturday at UFC Vegas 41, Costa revealed that he would not be able to make the scheduled middleweight limit and eventually the fighters negotiated to make the fight a light heavyweight contest instead. That perceived gamesmanship didn’t sit well with a lot of the MMA community, particularly Hooker who successfully made weight for a a recent win over Nasrat Haqparast in Las Vegas last month after visa issues made it unclear if either fighter would even be allowed in the country until days before the event.

“What Costa did, he didn’t earn the right to do that,” Hooker said on Submission Radio (transcription via Denis Shkuratov). “It was a funny situation because it was only what, a couple of weeks ago that we let Nick Diaz roll up and do it. But Paulo Costa hadn’t done for the sport what Nick Diaz had done, but obviously same result, he got the weight class changed entirely. So I don’t know, it’s kind of funny, like a bit of a power play. But it’s not for me, it’s not like the Anzac culture of the sport.

“That would never happen, something like that in New Zealand or Australia. I feel like if you just showed up to a local kickboxing show with your fighter 10 kilos (approx. 22 pounds) overweight and you were like, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ I feel like you’d get beaten up in the car park. It’s just a sign of respect. That’s all it is. It’s a matter of respect. I show up on weight as a respect for my opponent, as a respect for my gym, as a respect for representing who I represent. It’s a sign of respect to the fans, it’s a sign of respect to the promotion. It’s absolutely everything. So it absolutely is what it is. Him coming out like that is just a massive ‘F you’ to the fans, ‘F you’ to the UFC, ‘F you’ to his opponent.”

Costa would go on to lose a unanimous decision after a five-round thriller with Vettori. After Saturday’s event, UFC President Dana White told the media that Costa would be moving up to light heavyweight permanently in the future, a suggestion that Costa disagreed with.

While it remains to be seen what impact Costa’s decision-making has on his standing with the promotion and the fans, Hooker—currently No. 9 in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings—is likely in a stronger position at the moment after not only taking care of business with Haqparast, but stepping up to face one of the lightweight division’s boogymen, Islam Makhachev.

Makhachev was scheduled to fight former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267 this Saturday, but when dos Anjos was forced to withdraw due to an injury, Hooker volunteered to replace him and has gone as far as to propose that their main card bout be changed to a five-round contest.

“I don’t know, I’m just doing me,” Hooker said when asked if he believes fans view him as one of the ‘BMFs’ of the UFC. “I’m not trying to put on a show, I’m not trying—People would be able to see right through it. Islam could come out and call the bluff and say, ‘Look guy, he approached the UFC with five rounds and he turned it down.’ They know that that’s not gonna happen. They know that that’s not me. It’s just who I am. It’s just the way that I approach the sport. It’s the way that I’ve always approached the sport. It’s not difficult at all.

“We’ll see what happens after this as well. Go out there and get the job done. There are two massive lightweight fights before the end of the year. Knock on wood, you don’t want something to go wrong, but I’ll put my hand up. That’s all me. I’ll get back in there. As long as I can be medically cleared by a state commission to fight, I will fight.”