LAS VEGAS -- Unbeaten middleweight Paulo Costa was successful in baiting veteran Uriah Hall into a brawl on Saturday. He was even better at finishing him off.
The native Brazilian, who goes by the moniker of "The Eraser," did just that to the equally dangerous Hall via second-round TKO at UFC 226 inside T-Mobile Arena.
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The preliminary card main event was dramatic and intense from the opening horn as Costa successfully passed his toughest test to date and was forced to show a strong chin in doing so. With the victory, the explosive Costa (12-0) also became the first middleweight in UFC history to record knockouts in his first four fights.
"We came here to make a great fight for you," Costa said. "Every time I come here, I come to make a great show to get my money and get my bonus. That's it. I am here to show my application and I go to the belt sometime."
Costa, 27, was lucky to avoid a point deduction (along with anything worse) from referee Mark Smith as the chiseled slugger twice hurt Hall (13-9) in the opening round with blatant low blows. The first came on a flush kick and the second via a grazing right hand as the crowd showered him with boos.
The low blows also gave Hall a chance to get a breather amid the intense action. The illegal shots also visibly angered the native of Jamaica, only adding to the frantic pace of the fight.
"This is just one more victory on my way to the world title. Now I want to face a top fighter, I want to fight Chris Weidman. No one in this division can win against me, I'm the most powerful middleweight and I'm showing that in every fight," Costa said. "Uriah had very good timing and connected the jabs, but I knew he would not be able to handle my power. I'm ready for the next battle."
Both fighters traded huge shots at close range throughout. Hall found success with a stinging jab while boxing. Costa mixed in outside leg kicks with hulking right hooks upstairs.
Hall, 33, briefly dropped Costa to one knee in Round 2 after packaging a kick to the body with a left hand. But Costa got right back up and completely turned the fight into a brawl, getting the better of Hall as he hurt him with a jab and finished him with a left hand.
Smith jumped in to save Hall after he went down at 2:38 of the round as Costa made an emphatic statement that he's not only for real but a dangerous threat to the 185-pound title picture.