The UFC’s hottest up and coming middleweight put on a great performance against a terrifying Yoel Romero at UFC 241. After his win, it’s only logical to think he’ll get the next shot at the championship.
However, he won’t be able to do that in the state of California.
That’s because Paulo Costa was one of six fighters who was told by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) to move up in weight following his last bout. Other fighters who got the same news include Sabina Mazo, Brandon Davis, Kyung Ho Kang, Manny Bermudez, and Sodiq Yusuff. Their order to move up a division stems from a violation of the commission’s rehydration rule.
The short version is that fighters get flagged if they regain over 15 percent of their weight between the time of weigh-ins and fight night. It lets commission officials know the fighters may be dropping too much water weight, which could signal some potential health concerns.
“If those fighters wish to fight below the weight class that CSAC moved them to, then they will have to enroll in a nutrition program and work with the (UFC Performance Institute or a similar place) to address their weight/weight gain.”
The heavily muscled Costa stands at over 6’0 tall, and to be flagged by the commission, he would’ve had to have weighed in at over 214 pounds on fight night. That’s not a bad walking weight for a middleweight. Many fighters have large appetites and gain weight in between fights because of all the training they do.
However, conventional wisdom would say a fighter would diet down to the 200-pound range, then cut the rest of the water weight after that. Costa ballooning back up to 200+ pounds and still being very lean shows he may indeed be pushing himself too hard to make the weight.
Of course, every commission has its own rules. If Costa gets a title shot on a card held outside the state, he can still compete at middleweight so long as he doesn’t violate any policy that the commission has in place.
Some fighters have already made the jump from middleweight to light heavyweight, including Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman. While the weight classes from flyweight to middleweight are all separated by ten pounds each, the gap between middleweight and light heavyweight is twenty pounds. Given it is unlikely the UFC would put a class in between, fighters in that range have a tough decision to make.
Several fighters have found success after moving up. Michael Chiesa, Anthony Pettis, and Daniel Cormier are just a few of the fighters who seem to do a little better at higher weights than lower weights. There’s even the current middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, who had a so-so run at welterweight before he found his home at 185 pounds.
Should Costa consider moving up in weight? Or is the California commission simply overreacting, and can the UFC book around them if that’s the case?