The long-awaited showdown between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev is generating immense anticipation, quickly becoming one of the most eagerly awaited non-title bouts on the UFC's schedule.
Set to take place as a middleweight grudge match, the highly popular Brazilian fan-favorite, Paulo Costa, will collide with Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 on October 21. The event is scheduled to take place at Abu Dhabi's renowned Etihad Arena, where the UFC returns annually at the start of 2023.
Paulo Costa has revealed that this matchup was already part of the UFC's plan for their Abu Dhabi return, further intensifying the excitement surrounding the fight. Adding to the tension, Costa claims that Chimaev did everything in his power to avoid facing him, making the impending showdown even more compelling and eagerly awaited by fans.
“You know what’s interesting, because I want that fight so bad — a lot, I want a lot that fight. Dana [White] wants a lot that fight. The audience wants that fight. But not Chimaev,” Costa said on The MMA Hour. “Chimaev doesn’t want that fight, so he tried hard to get another guy to fight. Leon Edwards, Belal Muhammad, [Kamaru] Usman, he called all these guys — this is crazy — to fight him, and only the guys in the [lower weight] division. But he’s kind of nuts, because he was not fighting at 170. He’s going to fight at 185, so he was trying to pull up some lighter guys to 185 — you understand? — and not fight a genuine 185er.”
In a recent extensive interview on The MMA Hour, 32-year-old Paulo Costa shed light on the origins of his rivalry with Khamzat Chimaev. The animosity began back in 2022 during Chimaev's preparations for his UFC 279 bout against Nate Diaz. At that time, Costa was at the UFC Performance Institute, assisting Diaz's longtime teammate, Jake Shields. It was during this period that Chimaev was caught observing Costa from nearby.
Curious about the intense gaze, Costa confronted Chimaev and questioned the reason behind it. Chimaev's response was that he wanted to understand why Costa had been trash-talking about him. This candid exchange further fueled the tensions, nearly leading to a physical altercation between the two fighters.
Since then, Costa and Chimaev have engaged in a relentless exchange of jabs, both online and in interviews. The feud reached its peak during UFC London when Chimaev made disparaging remarks, doubting Costa's authenticity as a Brazilian and asserting his determination to defeat him and make him suffer.
Upon hearing these comments, Costa couldn’t help but laugh.
“He’s nuts. He’s crazy. He don’t say nothing relevant, nothing [that] makes sense. He’s crazy,” Costa said.
“I love him. He’s making me make money. He’s a good fighter. At the end, very deep at the bottom, he’s a good fighter. Let’s go. Let’s go there, beat him at his f****** house.”
“I think this fight will be crazy and it’s going to end in the first round,” Costa said.
“Knockout. I will not try to submit him. I’m a black belt but I will not try to submit him. I don’t think he’s going to try to submit me as well. So explosive of a guy, so full of energy. I prefer knockout.”