Paulo Costa lost the biggest fight of his MMA career in September 2020, losing via second-round TKO to UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in Abu Dhabi, and has pointed at lack of sleep as one of the reasons why he couldn’t perform so well at UFC 253. Five months later, “Borrachinha” reveals he drank a bottle of wine the night he fought “The Last Stylebender” on Fight Island as an attempt to sleep.
In a video posted Saturday on his YouTube channel, Costa said Adesanya had “all the merits for knocking me out,” but was impaired the moment he entered the octagon.
“I was kind of drunk [when] I fought, maybe, on hangover,” Costa said in Portuguese. “I couldn’t sleep because of the [leg] cramps. Keep in mind that the fight happens at 9 a.m. [local time], we have to wake up at 5 to get ready, stretch, wrap the hands. The UFC told us to wake up at 5 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 was awake for 24 hours, I had wine, too much wine, a bottle [of wine] to try to black out. I had a glass and didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all.”
In a previous video released on his YouTube channel back in November, Costa said “I shouldn’t have fought, I should have postponed it for the next weekend or more.”
“It was a different feeling,” he said in the video posted Saturday. “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.”
Costa returns to action on April 17, facing former champion Robert Whittaker in a five-round main event in Las Vegas. For this fight, the Brazilian middleweight promises fans will see “an aggressive Borrachinha.”
“Aside from the Adesanya fight where many things happened, many factors that didn’t allow me to get there well, it will be the same Paulo of always, going for the knockout at all times,” he said. “That’s who I am. I haven’t changed. The thing is, I was 20, 10 percent of my capacities in the Adesanya fight. We had to change the the strategy in the lockerroom. ‘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.
“The right thing would have been not fighting the way I was, because I was different. I was different because I was in horrible conditions. I didn’t sleep, I had leg cramps all the time, before walking out to the octagon, in the lockerroom. There are many things we can say, but won’t be the case for this video. But the athletic commission came to the lockerroom twice to check my leg, to remove the oil we had on it to have a massage. But, I’ll say it again, I was very confident. I wanted to fight, I thought I could do it. I just think the strategy was wrong, to not attack him.”