Middleweight rivals and former title challengers Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa entered the octagon with bad blood and proceeded to trade heavy shots for 25 breathless minutes in a remarkable UFC Fight Night 196 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
The needle between the pair reached new heights during a turbulent fight week that saw Costa arrive over weight and ask for a catchweight bout.
A bout at 195 pounds was agreed, but then, after Costa said he also couldn’t make the newly-agreed mark, the fight was bumped up to a fully fledged light heavyweight bout at 205 pounds.
It meant the pair, who had made their names at 185 pounds, did battle 20 pounds heavier, with plenty of bad blood in the mix, and the fight served up a tense, thrilling 25-minute war.
Costa appeared to be struggling with his cardio at points during the fight as Vettori pushed the pace on the Brazilian, but “Borrachinha” connected with a plethora of wince-inducing shots to the head and body of “The Italian Dream” as he looked to score the finish that would have saved him having to go the full five-round distance.
However, Vettori and his granite chin simply would not be denied and the fight went all the way to the scorecards, with all three judges agreeing on the score, with Vettori taking the victory 48-46 on all three cards.
UFC Fight Night 196: Results
- Marvin Vettori def. Paulo Costa via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46)
- Grant Dawson vs. Rick Glenn ruled a majority draw (29-28 Dawson, 28-28, 28-28)
- Jessica-Rose Clark def. Joselyne Edwards via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Alex Caceres def. Seung Woo Choi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:31
- Francisco Trinaldo def. Dwight Grant via split decision (27-29, 29-27, 29-27)
- Nicolae Negumereanu def. Ike Villanueva via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:18
- Gregory Rodrigues def. Jun Yong Park via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 3:13
- Mason Jones def. David Onama via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Tabatha Ricci def. Maria de Oliveira Neta via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jamie Pickett def. Laureano Staropoli via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jai Herbert def. Khama Worthy via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:47
- Jeff Molina def. Daniel Lacerda via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:46
- Randa Markos def. Livia Renata Souza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jonathan Martinez def. Zviad Lazishvili via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)