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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Paulo Costa after knockout loss at UFC 253?

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Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC 253 blew the roof off Flash Forum Arena last Sat. night (Sept. 26, 2020) on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds including Dominick Reyes, who failed to reach his championship dreams for the second straight fight after getting knocked out by Jan Blachowicz in round number two (see it again here). And Zubaira Tukhugov, who lost a split-decision to Hakeem Dawodu the day after coming in five pounds heavy.

But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Paulo Costa.

Coming into his first-ever championship title fight against Israel Adesanya, “Borrachinha” had done a very good job to produce the pre-fight heat thanks to his non-stop trolling of the middleweight champion. He also proved to be a legit threat to “The Last Stylebender’s” throne thanks to his perfect run inside the Octagon, which included five straight wins, four via knockout.

But as Adesanya so eloquently put it, maybe the hype was a little overstated.

While Costa did try to put on his normal pressure, he didn’t do much with it as he was hesitant to pull the trigger. He did pop off a few shots but nothing of note landed. To make matters worse, the hulking Brazilian wasn’t shy in trying to get into Adesanya’s head with some in-cage trash talk and gamesmanship, something that is usually reserved for those who are actually engaging in the fight.

And Costa really wasn't engaging...at least not in the way we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

But let’s give Adesanya credit, he did a great job weakening his opponent’s lead leg by abusing it all night with perfectly-placed kicks. He also hit him high, as well, busting him open with a nice head kick. Eventually, Adesanya clipped and dropped “The Eraser” in round two and finished him off with a vicious ground-and-pound attack.

It was a disappointing outing for Costa, who now has to go back to the drawing board after suffering the first defeat of his career, though he vowed to come back stronger than ever.

“I will back stronger very soon! Thank you all,” Costa wrote on social media.

UFC President Dana White, for one, was baffled by the performance.

“So much for ‘Fight of the Year’ – it was ‘Domination of the Year,’” White said during the post-fight presser. “It was weird because if you look at every other fight that Costa has had, he comes out and goes after people like they owe him money.

“I think he landed one jab in this fight. He didn’t try to clinch on the fence, didn’t try to put pressure, kept going back to the center of the Octagon. It was very weird.”

As for what’s next for Costa, perhaps a fight against Darren Till is in order. Granted, they are separated by four spots in the middleweight rankings, but both are coming off big losses, as “The Gorilla” was last seen losing to former division champion, Robert Whittaker, a few months ago.

It’s a good bounce back fight for both men and gives them a big opportunity to get a win against a high-ranked opponent that can get them back in the mix sooner, rather than later.