UFC middleweight contender Paulo Costa was not all that impressed by what he saw at UFC 294, at least not when it comes to that night’s co-main event. Originally scheduled to take on rising star Khamzat Chimaev on the card, the Brazilian was forced to leave the card due to an infection following elbow surgery.
Consequently, former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman agreed to accept the fight on short notice and save the Chechen’s spot on PPV. Ultimately, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ ended up losing a majority decision to Khamzat Chimaev, but it was a bout where many felt Usman overperformed on expectations.
Paulo Costa was unimpressed by Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294
In an interview on the MMA Hour, ‘Borrachinha’ praised Usman’s performance for what he was able to do on such short notice. On the other hand, he was not impressed with Khamzat Chimaev displayed throughout the match.
“Kamaru did his best, in the circumstances,” Costa said. “First of all, he’s a welterweight, not a middleweight. He was quite smaller than a legit middleweight. But he’s a good welterweight. But he was 10 days, short notice, and he flew here, to Abu Dhabi.”
“We know it’s different time, and maybe you take a few days to get here, depends from where you come. So basically he had seven days to train for this fight. I think he did what he could do, but if he could be a little bit more himself, he could get a win in this fight. I was talking with his coach, and I was like, ‘He needs to push.’ For sure, the first round, he lost, but I think he won the second and the third. In my opinion, if you put 10-8 for Gourmet Chen Chen in the first, it’s at least a draw. But it is what it is.”
“I think this fight makes Chimaev smaller than he was before. Actually, the people have a lot of hype on him, but I just realized it’s more about boys and kids. It’s not the hardcore fan base of MMA. Because the people don’t think he’s ready. Maybe he has potential, but he’s not ready for big fights, for superfights. Kamaru, with a full camp, smokes him.
Costa is still open to fighting Chimaev and other top contenders
Despite his frustration with Khamzat Chimaev’s performance at UFC 294, Costa was quick to guarantee he still wants to take on ‘Borz’ in the future. He’s just not as excited about it now. Should his rival not be interested in the matchup anymore, Borrachinha also seems ready to move on to other contenders, such as Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis, to name a few.
“I really want [to fight Chimaev],” he said. “I’m a little bit less excited to fight him after Saturday, because he showed a lot of holes in his game. So immature, going hard, he just rushed too much in the first [round] and he wasn’t there anymore in the second, in the third. So gassed. This is a beginner mistake. I remember when I had four fights, I was like that. I just rushed with everything that I had, and then my soul just goes out of my body and I was tired as hell. He’s doing the same right now. This is so immature. Everybody knows if Usman had two more rounds, he’s going to finish him or win the fight.”
“But he’s the fight that I want. If not, that’s okay. We have [Robert] Whittaker, we have [Dricus] du Plessis, [Jared] Cannonier. I don’t know.”
Costa sends Khamzat Chimaev one last message
Costa ended the conversation once again calling out Khamzat Chimaev. According to the Brazilian, Borz has been trying to get away from the fight ever since they first announced the pairing in the beginning of the year.
“Don’t be afraid,” Costa said. “The guy has run away from this fight the whole year. The UFC was planning to do this fight. They told me about this fight around January. I just said, ‘It’s so long without a fight. Why do you wait until October to fight Gourmet Chen Chen?’ They said, ‘No. no. I don’t want you to fight before because injury and we lost this match.’
“I said, OK. We’ll wait to do this fight. But even in August, Gourmet Chen Chen was trying to find other people to fight. Not me. He never wanted to fight me. Neither him, any of his coaches, his manager. Only the UFC pushed for him to accept. He had no other position.”
“So what’s my message for him? Let’s fight! Don’t be afraid. He’s an insecure man. He tries to look like ‘No fear’ and this s***, but he’s soft. He was crying, ‘I broke my hand!’ I broke my hand as well, against Luke. Did you see me cry about my hand?”
In his last outing, Paulo Costa (14-2) defeated former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision, back in August 2022. The victory snapped a two-fight losing skid for the 31-year-old, with a unanimous decision loss to Marvin Vettor and a TKO one to Israel Adesanya, respectively in October 2021 and September 2020.
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