Paulo Costa Knew He Wasn’t Fighting At UFC 291 ‘A Long Time Ago’, Details How The Khamzat Chimaev Matchup Came Together

Costa reveals when he knew he wasn't fighting Ikram Aliskerov.

Costa Sauna
(via Paulo Costa's Instagram)

Paulo Costa has a confession to make.

The former UFC title challenger was supposed to fight the unranked Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291 this weekend. However, it was revealed just last week that Costa wouldn’t be taking on Aliskerov after all. Instead, Costa has found a new dance partner in Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 and Aliskerov has also been rebooked against Nassourdine Imavov on the same card.

Costa Knew Something We Didn’t

While the fight cancellation is still fresh in our minds, it turns out Costa knew all along (or was pretty sure) he wouldn’t be fighting the Russian in Salt Lake City this Saturday.

“It was like a 99% of chance of not happening,” Costa said of the Aliskerov fight on The MMA Hour. “It was kind of, ‘let’s see’. We have this, we don’t have any, any other fighter available to fight you now, something like that.”

Costa says he knew that the fight wasn’t taking place 5-6 weeks out from UFC 291. Meanwhile, the UFC continued to promote the fight as if it were happening— that is, until last week.

“I’m a fighter for UFC, you know? It’s not boring me or annoy me,” Costa said of the pre-fight promotion. “I just think this kind of the company and can do, they do this, so I’m good. I’m aware of that. I knew that actually kind of five weeks ago, six weeks ago. Long time ago. Yeah, long time.”

Aliskerov Is ‘Very Talented’ But Need To Take ‘More Steps’ For A Big Fight

As for Aliskerov, who just lost out on a big fight, Costa has a message for him.

“I think he’s a very talented kid,” Costa said of Aliskerov. “I didn’t take too, too [much] time watching his fights. I just watch his fight on UFC against Phil Hawes… But no disrespect to him, I just think he needs to do more steps to fight the big names.”

Looking For A Fight

‘The Eraser’ explains just how the Khamzat Chimaev fight came together. And no, it wasn’t an easy process as Costa wanted another fight before battling ‘Borz’.

“In the beginning of this year, [the UFC] throw manager Tiki Ghosn [to me], [he said] ‘Hey, the fight to make is Paulo against Chimaev’. But, this fight only can happen on Abu Dhabi, October. So then few months ago, seven months ago, I just thought, bro, it’s so long. Why are I gonna wait for this guy until October? So gimme him a fight. Gimme a fight, UFC.

“And they say, we have no other fight available to fight you. I say, yes, you have, we have [Sean Strickland or [Jared] Cannonier. They say, we have all the plans for you guys not to compete against each other. So I was waiting for some fight. And then they suggest [Jan] Blachowicz at 205, around May. I say, okay, let’s do that. But, Blachowicz was not training. He was on vacation. So they ask, [Magomed] Ankalaev, he told UFC he was not training as well. He has no time because was on short notice, like two weeks to fight.”

Getting Past The Limbo

Costa continued, citing the fight with Chimaev had finally become a reality.

“I was in the limbo, no fights to do, but yeah, then White wants the fight since long time ago,” Costa added. I think because a lot, a lot of stuff is involved. I think he, he’s right. At some point I was wanting to get some, another fight before this. But I think he’s right because the chance to get some injury or some bad things happen and I will not be able to fight in Chimaev in October is a high percentage of chance of happening. So I think he’s right.

“The hype of this fight, because we have a beef, we don’t like each other… I think this is a good matchup for the [fans].”

Published on July 26, 2023 at 4:39 pm
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