Surging UFC middleweight contender Paulo Costa will not be leaving the 185-pound division behind even if the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) recommends it.
Costa, who is coming off a sensational unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero earlier this month at UFC 241, was banned by the CSAC from competing in the middleweight division after violating the state’s rehydration rule, in which fighters are automatically flagged when regaining 15 percent (or more) of their weight between weigh ins and fight night.
Costa came in at 14.9 percent for his middleweight bout with “Solider of God” in Anaheim and subsequently landed on the NSAC’s banned list. In order to fight in the state of California moving forward the Brazilian will have to get permission from the commission.
“If those fighters wish to fight below the weight class that CSAC moved them to, then they will have to enroll in a nutrition program and work with the (UFC Performance Institute or a similar place) to address their weight/weight gain,” CSAC representative Patrisha Blackstock told MMA Junkie. “Their nutrition program and findings from the PI will have to be sent to CSAC for review and approval before the fighters are moved down in weight class.”
However, just because Costa is being told he can’t fight in the state of California at 185 pounds doesn’t mean he’s going to move up to light heavyweight. In fact, Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, completely nixed the idea in a recent statement to MMA Fighting.
“It’s a recommendation, not an obligation. That’s normal and has happened to other athletes as well. He made weight super nicely, with supervision from a doctor, and was already on weight a day before the weigh-ins,” Ismail said. “To give you an idea, he had breakfast before the weigh-ins because he was under the limit. It’s all good.”
Costa is an absolutely hulking middleweight, but as long as he’s successfully cutting weight to get down to 185 pounds then he’d be foolish to leave the division now. After all, the undefeated Brazilian fighter has amassed a perfect UFC record of 5-0 and stands to earn the next title shot against the winner of Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya, which takes place this October at UFC 243.
Costa had never fought in the state of California before UFC 241 so maybe it’s not that much of a loss. For now, he’ll be staying at middleweight and pushing for his first UFC title shot by early 2020.