When Costa was trying to lose weight before his scheduled weigh-in at the UFC, a representative from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the UFC’s drug-testing partner, allegedly showed up at his hotel room. He stated they came to collect a sample from him at a time when many fighters are worn out and trying to make their last weight cut. Since he was informed that a blood sample was required for their examination, he claimed as much.
Fighters like Costa, who have voiced their displeasure with USADA’s timing, are not alone. UFC athletes must keep the agency apprised of their whereabouts at all times so that agents can show up unannounced to do random drug tests. Although such strategy is meant to deter any fighter from breaking the rules, it can backfire if the timing is off.
Before Friday’s ceremonial weigh-ins, UFC president Dana White voiced his disappointment with USADA’s handling of Costa’s positive test and claimed to have spoken with Costa about it.
“I apologized to (Costa) on stage. That’ll never happen again to any fighter,” White said at his UFC 278 post-event news conference. “(USADA representatives) don’t know about fighting the way that people who know about fighting know about fighting. You don’t go in and test a guy at 6 in the morning when he’s cutting weight. The result’s going to be the same a few hours later. You wait. I apologized to him on stage when he came out, and that won’t happen to another fighter again.”
In the co-main event that took place at Vivint Arena, Costa (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) prevailed over Rockhold (16-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) by earning a unanimous decision victory across all three scorecards. After the battle, Rockhold was a bloody mess, and during an in-cage interview with Joe Rogan, he stated that it was likely the last fight of his career. Both Costa and Rockhold were awarded bonuses of $50,000 for their performance in the Fight of the Night.
The victory was significant for Brazil’s Costa, who ended a losing streak that had lasted two bouts. At UFC 253, over two years ago, in a bout for the middleweight title, Israel Adesanya knocked him out, marking the first time in his career that he had been defeated. When he made his comeback more than a year later, he was unable to make the middleweight limit on the scale and asked for a fight-week change to face Marvin Vettori at light heavyweight. Marvin Vettori defeated him with a unanimous decision.
“Nothing but respect for both of those guys tonight. Of course we’d like to re-sign (referring to Costa). We’ll see what happens.”
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