What started as a simple piece of fantasy matchmaking on social media in late March exploded into potential bantamweight matchup that became universally praised.
With Costa being a big fan of Reese’s Pieces and Yanez being an advocate of Dr. Pepper, the fighters have found an interesting way to build the potential matchup without taking personal shots at each other. Two fighters looking to make an exciting fight for the entertainment of themselves and for MMA fans? What a refreshing change of pace.
“It wasn’t even like I went out of my way and was like, ‘I want that guy.’ It wasn’t that way at all,” Costa told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “Someone had tweeted Randy Costa vs. Adrian Yanez would be a good fight, and I chimed in that it would be a good fight. I’m sure it would be, whatever, he’s very good. And they said he wants to fight May 15 and I said, ‘I don’t really know how to talk sh*t, but I know he likes Dr. Pepper and Dr. Pepper sucks.’ So if you want to take that as talking sh*t, like if that’s what we can fight about, but I don’t dislike the guy so I’m not calling shots at him. It was simply a Twitter reply that turned into this big thing.”
Both Costa and Yanez are coming off of back-to-back stoppage wins. After dropping his short notice debut to Brandon Davis at UFC 236, “The Zohan” finished Boston Salmon in just over two minutes at UFC Boston in October 2019. He went on to pick up a highlight-reel KO of Journey Newson in just 41 seconds in his lone 2020 appearance at UFC Vegas 11 in September.
Yanez has made the most of his UFC opportunities in his own right. After a 39-second KO win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August that earned him a contract, the 27-year-old finished Victor Rodriguez and Gustavo Lopez, while opening up a lot of eyes in the process.
For Costa, this kind of excitement surrounding a potential matchup with a friendly foe is something he hasn’t seen before.
“It started to get some steam and other journalists started talking about it and it became this thing,” Costa explained. “It was actually really cool because it was the first time I had seen people get behind a fight that was provoked with nothing but positivity. It was really f*cking cool. People were like, ‘Wow, this would be such a good fight,’ but there was no animosity, we weren’t talking sh*t about each other. If anything, we were giving compliments to each other so it was really cool to see and sort of change the angle of what MMA fighters can do.
“I know I have never seen a fight [idea] grow with nothing but positivity. There’s been no negativity, no sh*t talking, it was really cool. Even if the fight doesn’t happen, I’m glad he got to boost his stock a little bit, I got to get my name out there a little bit and it was just out of complete positivity. I mean, his fans aren’t even talking sh*t about me and my people aren’t talking sh*t about him. It’s just one big f*cking party. It’s really cool.”
Following his win over Lopez, Yanez has been lobbying to compete at UFC 262 at the Toyota Center in his hometown of Houston. The arena holds a special place in Yanez’s heart and has a deep connection to his relationship with his father, who passed away five years ago.
Costa, who was able to compete in his home arena at the TD Garden in Boston, would love the opportunity to be the villain on fight night, but also help Yanez experience that same feeling.
“It would really be two exciting martial artists getting after it,” Costa explained. “The whole thing with him being from Houston, or around Houston, and obviously the story about his father, I was gifted with the opportunity to fight in my hometown so early in my career, so if I could help him get to it... I want to fight and be the guy that’s walking out and have all of Houston tell me I f*cking suck, that I’m gonna die, like, that would be so cool. I would love for that to happen.
“But the fight would be exciting, there’s no way it wouldn’t be exciting. I can see why the UFC wouldn’t want to put it together, but I can also see why the UFC would want to put it together especially now that there will be fans in the crowd. I don’t really know where it’s gonna go. As a realist, it’s not gonna happen in Houston, Texas unless it’s on four or five days’ notice. The card already has like f*cking 25 fights on it and that’s not gonna happen. But maybe sometime shortly thereafter.
“I’m sure Adrian Yanez and I are gonna fight. It’s inevitable. Maybe not this fight, maybe not the next fight but that fight’s going to happen. Look at the trajectory of where we’re going: he has a head kick knockout and a right hand knockout in the UFC. What do I have? The same f*cking thing. We’re both young, both exciting kids, both fun, both know how to talk—not talking sh*t, but we know how to bring some energy. I’m sure that fight is going to happen, just not sure if it’s gonna happen right now. I don’t think it’s gonna happen in Houston, but f*ck, I’m ready for it. It’s gonna be so fun.”
In terms of his recovery, Costa says he has gotten in the best shape of his career since being cleared by doctors to return to training.
“I’m feeling great now,” Costa said. “Going into the fight with Journey last year—it was a few weeks before—and I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I tore a muscle in my hip. So I was pretty f*cked up and I never got it fixed or taken care of, so I was obviously throwing kicks, running and everything I’m not supposed to do. It caught up with me and I started overcompensating, so in one hip, the muscle was torn, so everything overcompensated. One of my legs was longer than the other and everything was way f*cked up. I thought I had a slipped disc in my back. I couldn’t bend, cough, sh*t, sneeze, nothing for probably three solid weeks.
“The initial flare up in my back started around six weeks before the fight, rested two weeks, then it came back about three weeks before the fight. I figured, at that point, there’s really no chance I could do any kind of training. I couldn’t walk, it was a whole process to even get up off the ground so it was a lot of bed, sleep and I’ve talked to a lot of people who had similar injuries to this and I always thought lower back injuries were just a crock of sh*t. Just rub some dirt on it and you’ll be fine, but now I know it’s not a f*cking game. As of last week, a couple of weeks ago, I’m 100 percent good to go. But it was super f*cked up.”
With a bit of momentum lost in his eyes since having to withdraw from his fight with Jones, Costa is ready to get back in the octagon and is willing to do so on short notice if needed.
Costa also understands that because his body wasn’t able to get him to the APEX at UFC 259, he may not be on the top of the UFC’s list for a fight booking. Of course, if he had his wish, he would be standing across the cage from Yanez.
“We don’t even have a fight signed, contracts or anything like that but people are excited about our fake Twitter fight, I don’t f*cking know what’s going on,” Costa jokingly said. “I know myself and my management, we’ve asked for this fight. I imagine he’s done the same because this whole thing is public, but I have no idea what’s going on. Only Sean Shelby knows Sean Shelby’s agenda, we can’t speculate what’s going to happen. People like me and Adrian Yanez, we’re probably at the bottom of the list to where their priorities are, but it makes sense in terms of where we are in our career.
“But I’m ready to fight. If something falls off of Jacksonville, I’m ready for that. The only thing that would have me say no is if I can’t get my medicals done fast enough. I’m on weight, I’m in shape, I’m ready to fight. You can see on my social media I’m not just sitting around eating f*cking potato chips and sitting on the beach. I’ve been training and I’m ready, dude. It’s annoying, but in the UFC’s defense, I just pulled out of a fight, so I can’t really be the one talking sh*t, ‘Book me, book me, book me.’ They did already and I pulled. We’ll see what happens. You’re only as good as your last fight and my last fight isn’t the Journey one anymore, it’s the one I pulled out of. I’m on the low part of the priority list, but once I get booked and I have a performance, we’ll be a higher priority.”