Keep calm and secret juice: Paulo Costa embraces rare orderly lead up to UFC 302

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – It’s not often Paulo Costa gets a second fight week in four months, as is the case currently in the days leading up to UFC 302.

For the second straight camp booking, there were no fight-damning issues. Costa (14-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) strolled into his pre-fight news conference fashionable, and fashionably late.

A giant jug of secret juice was in his hand, a yellow variation with chunks of some unknown fruit floating in it. “STRONG & JACKED” was labeled in bold sharpie marker on the side of the vessel.

Overall, Costa seemed at peace with no injuries, no conflicts with the UFC, and no issue with his opponent or the date. After years of intermittent withdrawals, injuries, contract issues, and more, Costa has finally found consistency.

“After (my last) fight, I was feeling good with no injuries. I didn’t hurt, so why not?” Costa told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “Why not keep the process, not lose all the work I did for that fight and just keep the progress, keep the work? So we did that and we had a great match. First, it was against Cannonier and then it changed for Strickland. So why not? I’m feeling good, in shape and we’ve got this great opportunity.”

Costa said the idea to fight Sean Strickland (28-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) in a five-round co-main event was not his idea, but he accepted it. He also indicated there were no hiccups on the business side of things, despite a post from Strickland days out from the event that claimed Costa hadn’t signed his bout agreement yet.

“I had a great meeting with UFC. We just talked before,” Costa said. “We didn’t have any kind of issues to sign. Sean knows that. He knows. I will say again, he wants to make some noise and promote fight. I’m glad for that. I’m glad for that. I just want to mention me, Tainara, my manager, and the UFC, we are working very close and very together to make this business the best possible for everybody. For my part, for UFC’s part. For fans. I’m glad. I think we’re going to deliver a huge fight and a huge entertainment for everyone – me and Sean, Saturday.”

Perhaps it’s what’s at stake that has Costa radiating pristine form. Strickland is one fight removed from a title fight and could re-insert himself into the title picture with a win.

Although Robert Whittaker defeated him in February, Costa thinks a round-robin of losses could make it a contest of who impresses the most. It’s a four-man race as Costa sees it, between himself, Strickland, Whittaker and Whittaker’s next opponent Khamzat Chimaev.

“I think once he already beat (Israel) Adesanya, if Adesanya beat Dricus (Du Plessis), I think and if Sean beats me, he’s going to be the next. But let’s see. You never know. I have a beef with Adesanya, as well, and against Chimaev. Anything can happen. Let’s see Saturday. I think who delivers better is going to step in front. It depends how the fight is going to be. If I knock out him in great style Saturday. If the fight in Saudi Arabia is not so good, we can be in front. It depends on how we’re going to perform.””

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie