Dana White opens up on ‘tough’ Paulo Costa negotiations

Dana White talks negotiations with Paulo Costa ahead of UFC 291.

By: Lucas Rezende | 5 days ago
Dana White opens up on ‘tough’ Paulo Costa negotiations
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 24: Dana White speaks with the press following the event for Power Slap 2 - Wolverine vs Bell on May 24, 2023, at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire OTHER: MAY 24 Power Slap 2 - Wolverine vs Bell EDITORIAL USE ONLY Icon30520042

It seems that the negotiations between UFC president Dana White and middleweight contender Paulo Costa have all been done and settled. After the Brazilian’s coach claimed that ‘Borrachinha’ signed a contract of over a million dollars per fight, the promotion seemed a bit more at ease with the unpredictable athlete.

Shortly afterward, reports of a potential fight with Khamzat Chimaev started to surface. That fight fell by the wayside, with Costa now booked to take on Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291 instead.

Paulo Costa may be the best paid Brazilian in the UFC

“Paulo has gone from one of the UFC’s most undervalued athletes to one of its most valued ones.” Costa’s manager said in a recent interview. “I’m sure, with no doubt, that Paulo is the most well-paid Brazilian within the promotion. Do you know any fighters who make more than a million dollars per fight? Because I don’t. Especially for non-title fights. The UFC knows that Paulo’s product sells. Paulo’s PPV against Adesanya was the most sold one in the middleweight division. The UFC has these numbers. The UFC knows the numbers Paulo can reach.”

Furthermore, Costa’s manager, Tamara Alves, claimed that they were able to arrive at such a good deal once they realized how much the Brazilian was worth to the promotion and used that information against the UFC in their negotiations.

“First of all, an athlete must sell. They have to show the company results. Then you have to learn how much of that can turn into a financial figure that can be returned to the athlete. I think that was her biggest insight, alongside the team she put together. We had all these productive meetings where we able to quantify these numbers into real metrics. When we put that on the table during our negotiations, the UFC didn’t have much of an argument,”

Dana White is ready to negotiate with difficult fighters

A good deal for Costa, but for Dana White it seems that the negotiations were just another day at the office. In an interview with Ag Fight (transcribed by Sportskeeda), the UFC president explained that dealing with sometimes difficult fighters is something that comes with the territory.

“I think that every fighter we deal with is different in certain ways. You know, some are easy, some are tougher, but that’s our job; that’s what we do. Our job is to get deals done, and we finally got him dialed in, and it will be fun to see him fight in Utah.”

After he signed a lucrative contract, the big question now will be, what can he do with it? Costa has already competed for UFC gold, it seems unlikely he’ll get many easy bookings going forward. White had some thoughts about the fight they lined up for Borrachinha against Aliskerov.

“I guarantee you this, he’s fighting a tough guy, and it’ll be a damn good fight. And like I said before, when you’re negotiating and doing deals with fights, you know. They’re not as easy behind-the-scenes as they seem on the surface.”

Paulo Costa is facing a dangerous prospect next

In August 2022, Paulo Costa (14-2) defeated former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision. The victory snapped a two-fight losing skid for the Brazilian, who had lost to Marvin Vettori and Israel Adesanya, respectively in October 2021 and September 2020.

Meanwhile, Ikram Aliskerov (14-1) had an impressive UFC debut when he knocked out Phil Hawes in the first round of their match at UFC 288. The 30-year-old earned a contract with the promotion when he scored a submission win over Mario Sousa at Contender Series, in September 2022.

Costa is expected to take on Aliskerov at UFC 291, on July 29, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a lightweight bout for the BMF title between former interim champions Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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