After a bizarre week leading up to his UFC Fight Night main event with Paulo Costa, Marvin Vettori managed to pick up a hard-fought unanimous decision victory on Saturday. The fight was contested at light heavyweight despite being contracted as a middleweight bout, a result of Costa showing up badly overweight and admitting he could not cut to 185 pounds.
Vettori never backed down from accepting the fight on the new terms, even as the official weight of the fight climbed to 190, 195 and eventually 205 pounds.
After the controversy of fight week caused by his own actions, Costa attempted to charge across the cage to confront Vettori before the fight even began, forcing security to hold the two men apart before the opening bell had even sounded.
Vettori kept a constant pressure from the early moments of Round 1, mixing in combination striking even as Costa remained dangerous with heavy punches and even some clean head kicks. Despite the clean connections from Costa, Vettori kept his foot on the gas. Costa was forced to fight much of the bout with his back to the cage.
Costa suffered a point deduction in the second round, poking Vettori in the eye as he appeared to be tiring and Vettori started looking to mix takedowns into his game.
Costa scored a takedown of his own in Round 3 but attempted to lock in a guillotine, allowing Vettori to take top position and continue to grind away as Costa looked increasingly gassed by the non-stop pressure from the Italian.
Despite the fatigue, Costa never backed down, continuing to trade shots and even unleashing a brutal attack to the body with kicks and punches in the final round. Vettori was able to survive Costa's final charge to get the fight to the scorecards where it seemed all but certain he'd be awarded the decision, especially considering Costa's earlier point deduction.
The official scorecards read 48-46 across the board, all for Vettori as Costa shook his head.
"He should have made weight, you know," Vettori said after the fight. "He should respect all of us. But I get to buy myself another watch with this money. I still got the win and I'm proud of it."
Vettori improved to 7-2-1 in his 10 most recent fights, the lone losses coming against Israel Adesanya, including a loss in a bid for the title in his most recent fight.
Costa has now lost two straight after losing his own shot at Adesanya and the title.