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Michael Bisping gives Paulo Costa credit for great performance, but calls pre-fight behavior ‘inexcusable’

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After revealing that he wouldn’t be able to make the middleweight limit for his UFC Vegas 41 main event fight with Marvin Vettori, Paulo Costa received a lot of criticism for his apparently flippant behavior and attitude toward the situation.

Former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who called the UFC Vegas 41 main event on Saturday night, admitted he had a big problem with the way everything unfolded, especially when it came to Costa failing to make weight after a full training camp.

“I’m always hard on people that don’t make weight,” Bisping said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “There’s only two things we can control — you turn up in shape and on weight. If you’re not doing that, you’re not fulfilling your contractual, your professional obligations.

“You’re disrespecting the sport, you’re disrespecting your opponent, your team. You’re disrespecting yourself as well.”

What started out as a fight at 185 pounds between Costa and Vettori eventually turned into a catchweight bout at 195 pounds. Then, within a matter of hours, the bout was changed to a light heavyweight contest the evening prior to weigh-ins. Costa had to give up 20 percent of his purse to Vettori as punishment, but he wasn’t exactly apologetic when speaking about his own misgivings after failing to make weight.

Perhaps the bigger grievance that Bisping had with Costa was how the former title contender carried himself after acknowledging there was no way he could cut down to the middleweight limit, essentially putting the onus back on Vettori to decide if the fight happened or not.

In reality, Vettori could have easily scrapped the contest because he was contracted to face Costa at middleweight, but the Italian born fighter never even entertained the idea that he wasn’t going to compete.

“I like Paulo,” Bisping said when addressing Costa. “I’m a fan of his and the way he carries himself, I have no issue with. But that whole debacle was kind of inexcusable.

“He wasn’t apologetic. He didn’t really care. It was 195 [pounds] then it was 205, it’s not what you want to see. It was very regrettable but it’s in the past.”

When it came down to the fight itself, Costa engaged in a five-round war with Vettori that saw more than a few shifts in momentum.

Costa connected with several hard shots throughout the fight, including an absolutely brutal head-kick that landed flush. In return, Vettori packed on the punishment with a volume striking game, almost constantly beating Costa to the punch to help secure a unanimous decision victory.

“How Marvin Vettori took those shots, took that head kick,” Bisping said. “Costa was ripping to the body. Of course, Vettori out-landed him, he was working busier, but the big nasty disgusting shots that echoed around the bloody APEX, when they landed, all belonged to Costa and he looked gigantic in there. Marvin’s a big guy. He’s a big, strong scary dude but Costa looked like the Incredible Hulk. He almost looked like Vitor Belfort on steroids but not quite. The Incredible Hulk squeezing his penis covered in veins. He was scary, but Marvin took all those shots and he never took a backward step pretty much. I have so much respect for both men.

“So much respect for Marvin how he handled that whole scenario. He didn’t complain. He didn’t feel like a victim. He went out there and met him head on and fought fire with fire and won an amazing fight. Fair play to Costa as well, cause over five rounds, it looked like he was getting tired, but he continued to dig deep and he did that against Yoel Romero as well. But this was five rounds, not three rounds, and he still pushed and he’s still dangerous. He had high output. I was on my feet most of the fight.”

In the end, Vettori earned a unanimous decision victory and Costa will go home with 20 percent of his purse taken away along with a decree from UFC President Dana White that, moving forward, he has to compete at 205 pounds.

If the result had gone the other way, Bisping admits that the ill feelings toward Costa would have probably extended even further given his attitude. Now, he said, everyone can move forward after a great fight, and Vettori gets the win despite the odds stacked against him.

“Fortunately, Marvin got the win anyway,” Bisping said. “Had he been beaten, I think I’d feel differently, and I think a lot of people, especially Marvin, would feel differently, but he got the win. He got the win in an incredible fight.”