Paulo Costa had a novel excuse for his unusually tepid performance in his world title bout against Israel Adesanya, earning derision for admitting that he was “hungover” from a full bottle of wine he had drunk hours beforehand.
Brazil’s Costa surrendered his unbeaten professional record when he was beaten by middleweight champion Adesanya in Abu Dhabi last September, but more more disappointing than the result was the performance of the usually ferocious slugger.
Rather than hunting down his opponent as he had done in his previous 13 fights, Costa stayed at range and presented an easy target to the laser-sighted Adesanya.
Costa initially pointed to less-than-ideal scenarios in preparation which had hindered his performance, at the time suggesting that a lack of sleep was a significant factor.
Lmfao Costa said he Drank a whole bottle of wine before the night before the fight to go sleep, was drunk when he fought, Leg cramps, didn’t fight properly because he was too calm, was sleepy and yawning the whole time and had many other factors going into the fight??? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/mPKa8uSh6Y
— OG_Trillmatic (@OTrillmatic) February 28, 2021
Paulo Costa fans must be so embarrassed rn….and remember this is a man that got humped in the cage but somehow this is worse to me
— Euman Trash (@KrayT1to) February 28, 2021
Several months on from the world title fight, he now says that he probably shouldn’t have drank a bottle of wine the night before the fight.
“I was kind of drunk [when] I fought, maybe, on hangover,” Costa said on his YouTube channel (via translation).
“I couldn’t sleep because of [leg] cramps. Keep in mind that the fight happens at 9am [local time]. We have to wake up at 5 to get ready, stretch, wrap the hands.
The night before the biggest fight of his fighting career and he drinks too much wine? Who does he think he is? Jon Jones? 😂
— MartialMind 🇳🇬🇺🇲 (@MartialMind1) February 28, 2021
“The UFC told us to wake up at five in the morning to go to the arena to fight. I hadn’t slept until 2.30.
“It was my mistake and I don’t blame anyone else. It was something I chose [to do] but, in order to try to sleep, because I had to sleep since I had been awake for 24 hours, I had wine – too much wine, a bottle [of wine] to try to black out.
“I had a glass and it didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all.”
Costa, who lost by second-round knockout in the fight, had previously admitted that he should have sought to postpone the fight for a week given his problems sleeping. He elaborated in the video about exactly how he felt in the cage after his pre-fight bender.
“It was a different feeling,” he said in the video. “I’m always very active in every fight.
“There’s some apprehension, fear of getting hit and whatnot, so you’re on. In this fight, the championship fight, I was sleepy, yawning and unworried.
“It was odd. I didn’t feel anything, not even an agony, ‘Wow, I’m fighting for the title.’ Not even that. I was too calm. All that calm freaked me out.”
Listeners were predictably unconvinced. “What a cry baby,” retorted MMA fighter Ramsey Nijem. “You drank the wine and got f**ked. You’re not the first.”
“So the night before the biggest fight of his career he ‘drank too much wine’,” said one fan, while others compared Costa’s surprising explanation to the roundly-discredited reasons given by former boxing champion Deontay Wilder for his knockout defeat against Tyson Fury last year.
“The fight that would’ve not only made him a UFC champion but also dethroned a fighter who many before him couldn’t, and that’s how serious he took it. He should never be given another shot at the title.”
Costa will get his opportunity to rebound from the Adesanya loss when he fights former 185lbs titleholder Robert Whittaker in a five-round main event on April 17 – when Costa promises we will see the return of the man who fought his way to title contention, rather than the person who ultimately surrendered the opportunity.
“It will be the same Paulo of always, going for the knockout at all times. I haven’t changed,” he said. “The thing is, I was 20, 10 percent of my capacities in the Adesanya fight.
“We had to change the the strategy in the locker room – ‘don’t attack him, just wait for the first two rounds’ – which was a mistake. Today we know that was a mistake, but talking is easy.”