On the night of UFC 294 at the Etihad Arena, middleweight Paulo Costa made headlines for a scuffle in the audience. Cameras captured the injured Brazilian in a skirmish, defending himself against multiple individuals, although it remained unclear how the confrontation initially transpired.
Costa was originally scheduled to compete in the event but later withdrew due to a staph infection that necessitated three surgeries and a brief hospitalization. He found himself at the center of this incident. UFC security personnel intervened as one person lunged towards Costa, leading to a chaotic scene.
The identities of the other individuals involved and the exact reasons behind the altercation were not disclosed. Nonetheless, Costa took to social media to share a video of the confrontation. In his caption, he issued a warning to his originally scheduled opponent, Khamzat Chimaev, saying, “Don’t mess with me lil chenchen. I’ll send you back home with a smack straight to your big forehead. My right arm is working already.”
Costa’s presence in the arena didn’t earn him a warm reception from the crowd, who responded with boos. Although he expressed a willingness to fight despite earlier reports of his removal from the event, it was later revealed that the staph infection and subsequent surgeries were the reasons behind his withdrawal.
In the end, the UFC replaced Costa with ex-welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who faced Chimaev in the octagon. Chimaev secured a majority decision victory in that bout, extending his impressive winning streak. Costa’s last fight took place in August 2022 when he earned a decision victory over former champion Luke Rockhold at UFC 278.
It’s unclear when Costa will return however many prominent stars are calling for Costa vs Chimaev to be rebooked in light of Chimaev’s anemic performance against Usman.
Interestingly, Chimaev drew inspiration from Conor McGregor:
“I see the guy [McGregor] knock him [Aldo] out. I was thinking, ‘If that guy did that, then why I’m not going to do it.’ Mentally, I’m stronger than him, my body is bigger. I was feeling at that time [if I met] him outside, I can break him, you know? If he makes that money, why not me?”