This weekends UFC Event plays host to one of the most important and interesting matchups for the Middleweight Division.
Both Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori are far from being out of the title picture, despite being Israel Adesanya's two most recent title-defense victims. Both men, however, remain somewhat delusional about what happened in their fights against the reigning champ.
Now, after a chaotic fight week where Costa has seemed to not understand the concept of a weight class or simply not care, these two Middleweight contenders will be fighting at Light Heavyweight.
A 20-pound change in weight is very meaningful. Vettori has never shown to have a problem making 185, and while Costa has consistently made weight at 185 prior to this week he seems to be different sort of human. I mean he was shredded when he stepped on the scale at 204 this morning.
The weight of course is a large factor. Costa wasn't forced to make any real weight cut while Vettori's was likely already in progress when this saga began to transpire. However, showing up to fight week 25 pounds overweight and simply refusing to even attempt to make weight seems to show an enormous lack of preparation and focus.
Paulo Costa has turned out to be the one person who can make Marvin Vettori into a sympathetic figure.
The fight itself will be very interesting. Costa could likely weigh upwards of 220 pounds tomorrow night. The longer the fight lasts, the more that favors Vettori, but that first round is going to be about as dangerous as a round can be.
What should make this fight so fun to watch is that they are both pressure fighters. Vettori is going to pressure forward with his boxing and likely look to clinch and takedown Costa, which would tire the large man out pretty quickly. Costa is going to try to turn this into a slugfest, and there aren't many people on Earth who can survive a slugfest with Paulo Costa.
I think Costa has 10 minutes to finish this fight. If this fight enters the 3rd Round, it's Vettori's to lose. Despite the weight difference, Vettori's grappling and pressure is just going to exhaust Costa. Those first 10-minutes, however, Costa is going to be as dangerous as ever. We all know that Vettori can take shot, and he is actually deceivingly difficult to hit, but against a 205-pound Costa it still only would take one shot.
To me, missing weight is always the biggest red flag when it comes to a fighters preparation. Outside of an early KO for Costa, it is hard for me to see any outcome other than a dominant performance for Marvin Vettori. I don't think the weight issues are going to bother him mentally at all, and he is going to be ready for a full 25-minutes of fighting, and I just doubt that is the case for Costa.