UFC 301 a night to remember for Alessandro Costa: TKO win, $50K bonus, praise from idol Jose Aldo

UFC 301 was a special moment in Alessandro Costa’s fighting career – one he will remember for the rest of his life.

The UFC flyweight had what he called the “complete package.” He fought for the very first time in his native country of Brazil, got a TKO finish over his opponent Kevin Borjas, earned a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus, and received a personal congratulation from his idol Jose Aldo.

Life is good for Costa (14-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC).

But first, before the win, before the bonus money, Costa was just happy to be home. In his late teens, he moved to Puebla, Mexico, to pursue his dream of becoming a fighter and opening an MMA academy with his close friend Diego Lopes. Just fighting in Brazil, where his father and friends would get to watch him fight for the first time, was a treat for him.

“It was incredible, and it was even more than what I expected,” Costa told MMA Junkie in Spanish, reflecting on his first professional fight on home soil. “It was very cool. All the people were behind me. Even at the faceoff, when my opponent walked out, everyone was booing him, and when I came in, everyone kept chanting, ‘You’re going to die.’ So, that kind of support I didn’t expect.

“It made me really happy, and I think that helped me to fight at my best on Saturday.”

Costa opened up the event in a flyweight bout against Peru’s Borjas (9-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC). The Brazilian was coming off a close, competitive decision loss to Steve Erceg, who was fighting for the 125-pound title in the main event of the card.

Costa went out there and dominated Borjas from start to finish. He chopped him down with leg kicks in the second, and then mounted him to finish him with ground-and-pound. The victory got him a Performance of the Night bonus.

“If you look at my fight (where I won a bonus) against Flick, I basically took the same route,” Costa explained. “When I had his back, I thought about submitting him with a rear-naked choke or an armbar, but then I remembered I won the bonus against Flick because of the ground and pound, so I wanted to do the same. I just followed the same steps that took me to my first bonus. I promise you, this whole week I was thinking of the bonus. I wasn’t just fighting to win, I wanted to win the bonus.

“… It got tough for a moment with Michel Pereira and Caio Borralho’s win. When I saw those finishes, I said, ‘Man, there goes my bonus.’ But then, when I was at the hotel, I was already getting ready to sleep when my coach, Pancho, wrote to me saying I had won the bonus. My manager’s wife called me, ‘Hey, you need to come down and celebrate,’ so I jumped out of bed and went and celebrated with everyone.

Things didn’t stop escalating for Costa there. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, the following day he fired up a live stream on his Instagram account – and none other than his idol Jose Aldo, who won in his return from retirement in the co-main event of the card. Costa had been fanboying all week over Aldo, and told MMA Junkie it was an honor and dream come true to be fighting on the same card as him.

“Everything was just perfect,” Costa said. “You know how during fight week you’re doing interviews and stuff? UFC put me in a room to do an interview, and he (Aldo) was finishing one, so I had the chance to introduce myself and talk to him. UFC Brazil actually uploaded that video to TikTok. I told him that he was the first fighter I followed when I started training jiu-jitsu and that he was a big inspiration for me. It was a dream come true to meet him and also fight on the same card as him. It was incredible.

“He went in the Instagram live and congratulated me and said, ‘Go, Manaus!’ and he said I was very good and that he’s happy for me. This is one of the best moments of my career, given everything that’s happened. It was the complete package. I’m so thankful, and this motivates me to work even harder. I’m not satisfied, don’t get me wrong, but this just motivates me and makes me really happy.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie