Paulo Costa caused quite a stir on fight week leading up to his Saturday headliner against Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 41. “Borrachinha” was unable to make the supposed middleweight limit, forcing the bout to be moved to a 195-pound catchweight, and eventually, to a light heavyweight contest.
This put Costa in a negative light. Former fighters who’ve gone through the same situation in the past called him out for being “lazy.”
That narrative against Costa may have carried over to the fight and affected referee Jason Herzog’s judgment, at least according to Daniel Cormier. The former UFC double-champ questioned the official’s decision to immediately deduct a point on the Brazilian fighter for his inadvertent eye poke on Vettori in round two.
“The poke in the eye, I get it. But, when he got a point deducted — and I’ll tell you this, I thought this immediately right after. I thought to myself, ‘Jason Herzog has been watching the headlines.’ Jason Herzog has been watching and paying attention to the story that’s going around this fight,” Cormier said in a recent video from his YouTube channel.
“Because everybody hates Costa, from the weigh-in, he’s like, rubbing his hands, he’s, like, playing the bad guy all week. But when (Herzog) took the point after one eye poke? That really did not look intentional to me.
“It told me that Herzog has been kind of following the headlines, and he allowed for that emotion of Costa being the bad guy to make him go a little bit too fast.
“Should’ve been a warning. We have seen much more severe eye pokes happen in fights. I’ve done them myself where I’ve poked guys more than this guy poked Marvin Vettori. And then get a point taken away.”
Cormier went on to point out how it’s seemingly a norm to pay attention to the headlines and how it could affect certain decisions.
“As an official, you can’t read the headlines,” he said. “That’s one thing that I’ve learned as I’ve been doing these fights. Everybody pays much more attention than you ever want to believe. Everybody, from the fighters to the referees, everybody pays attention. The commentators. Everybody listens.
“And they listen to things that they shouldn’t, so at times, as humans, they make decisions — or we make decisions that may end up not being the right thing for the situation. And I think in this one, Herzog read the headlines and he may have judged Costa unfairly.”
Costa ended up losing the fight via decision. He also had to give up 20 percent of his purse for his weight miss.
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