Dana White hopes to re-sign Paulo Costa, takes issue with USADA’s weigh-in day drug test

SALT LAKE CITY – Paulo Costa was plenty fired up early in the day Friday, well before he got in the cage with Luke Rockhold.

After Costa made weight for UFC 278 in Salt Lake City at the official weigh-ins, he went on a brief expletive-filled rant for the UFC officials and media in attendance at the host hotel in Salt Lake City.

Costa said a representative for the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the UFC’s drug-testing partner, showed up at his hotel room early in the morning while he was cutting weight in preparation for his trip to the scale a few hours later. Not only did they arrive to get a sample from him during a time that many fighters are dehydrated and cutting their final pounds, but he said their test included a blood draw.

Costa’s complaint about USADA’s timing is not a new one among fighters. The agency requires the UFC’s fighters to keep it apprised of where they will be, which allows representatives to show up unannounced for random drug tests. That strategy is meant to keep any fighter who might consider breaking the rules from doing so, but it has ruffled plenty of feathers, too, when the timing is bad.

UFC president Dana White was not happy with how USADA handled Costa’s drug test early Friday, and said he spoke to him about it at the ceremonial weigh-ins.

“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.”

Costa (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) outlasted Rockhold (16-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) for an unanimous decision sweep of the scorecards in the co-main event at Vivint Arena. Rockhold was a bloody mess after the fight and said in an in-cage interview with Joe Rogan that it likely was his final bout. Costa and Rockhold each got $50,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night.

The win was a crucial one for Brazil’s Costa, who snapped a two-fight skid. At UFC 253 nearly two years ago, he was knocked out by Israel Adesanya in a middleweight title fight for the first loss of his career. In his return more than a year later, he couldn’t make the middleweight limit on the scale and requested a fight-week change to light heavyweight against Marvin Vettori, who then beat him with an unanimous decision.

Costa said after his win over Rockhold that his UFC contract either was up after UFC 278 or about to be up. A third straight loss might have seen him bounced from the promotion. But with the win, White said he wants to see the 31-year-old back in the UFC.

“(I have) nothing but respect for both of those guys tonight. Of course we’d like to re-sign (Costa). We’ll see what happens.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 278.

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