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MadLab MMA Breakdown – Vettori vs Costa

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(Provided by MadLab MMA)

Marvin Vettori vs. Paulo Costa

Martin Vettori

This is a fight that has so many question marks to it. So many things that can take shape, and so many ways this fight can end. Both fighters have cups half full I believe. When I say that I feel as if they have much more to give from a potential standpoint. That is always a very exciting thing to have when you think about the future of a division. However, we need to break down what we know as of now and sprinkle in some assumptions if you factor in obvious adjustments that need to be made on both sides in order for them to be victorious. 

Marvin Vettori is still underrated in my eyes. Is he the greatest elusive athlete? No, he is not, but he has a very well-rounded approach, he is durable, and he also has pretty good conditioning. The Italian Dream fighting out of Kings MMA under the watchful eye of Raphael Cordero brings an element of fighting that many middleweights just don’t possess. He popped up hard on my radar after his split decision loss to Israel Adesanya. Even though they were both much younger at the time, I saw something in him that just seemed extremely pliable to work with. He lacked in certain areas, but the ideas were there, but the mechanics needed to be polished up a bit. With a record of 17-5, He has 9 submissions and 2 KOs to his credit. Vettori didn’t hit the ground walking under the UFC umbrella, he hit the ground running and beat some seriously good names in the game. With only three losses under the UFC banner, two of those losses are against Izzy, who seems to be shaping up like Jon Jones was to DC in a smaller sense. We can’t say that any one style has been left off his resume thus far because he has fought all styles and beaten them, except “The Izzy Issue” as I call it. Coming off his second loss to Izzy, he now finds himself in a tough spot from a title shot angle. It is usually hard to get a third crack right away unless a division is running very, very thin. Vettori most likely will need to fight a rough slate before he gets back to that point, but an impressive win against Costa here where without a doubt jump-start that path forward. So what are the pros and cons of Vettori? Let us take a look. 

Pros 

  • 5 round cardio: He has shown the ability to go 5 rounds in his last three fights, holding a record of 2-1.
  • Durability: He is very hittable but does have a very good chin that has seemed to really allow him to set him up in positional situations that he looks for without much technical thinking.
  • Top control: His top control is one of the best in the division. When he gets on top, you really need to be well-versed to get yourself back into an advantageous or safe position.
  • Submissions: He is very sneaky with his submissions once he has a position on you. He gives a good dose of ground and pound to soften you up until you let your guard down and he can slip something in.
  • Mentality: He has a very Dog way about him. The kid has a no-quit attitude and literally will fight for your money at all costs. He can be down a few rounds and he is going to keep moving forward looking to turn the table in his favor.

Cons

  • Cage IQ: His cage IQ is questionable at times. Even though there is no way for me to see their exact blueprint going into a fight, I can tell that he has and does deviate from the script allowing instinct to take over sometimes instead of trusting the process.
  • Athletic ability: This is a tightrope because the kid is a very good athlete, but on his feet, he does tend to look a little plodding and robotic at times. He is not the type that is going to wow you with good movement while stinging you in and out of the pocket. He looks to mirror you, close space, and start to land from there. With that said, a very polished striker with good takedown defense will have a very good chance to beat him. Example: Izzy.

(Check out MadLabs MMA here.)

Paulo Costa

Laying a bead on Costa is not going to be easy. I will be honest: I am very torn on this fight because Costa does have the tools to win this fight. However, something just doesn’t seem to be wired right with him. The Brazilian burst onto the scene making quick work against his first four fighters under the banner. Then, after a fight of the year candidate against Yoel Romero, many questions were answered about his heart and will in tough spots. It isn’t every day that you see a fighter walk Romero down and Costa did just that for 15 minutes. Eating punishment from Yoel he never took a backstep even one time. There is something to really be said about that. He came that night to fight and even though I thought Yoel slightly won that fight, it was razor close and I can see the argument on why he did actually win. 

Here is when I started to see some issues that I didn’t like. It is no secret that the UFC would love to market the hell out of this kid, but there is something about him that just seems a little off. He seems to be a bit full of himself and although confidence is a very strong suit to have, you can have too much to a fault. There have been rumblings about him being a prima donna behind the scenes and the UFC staff not enjoying being around him behind the cameras. He tends to walk around calling it “his belt,” yet in his only title shot he choked. Yes, he choked, case closed. He can blame it on Nyquil or wine all he wants from the night before, but that is a worse look than just taking the loss and moving on. Did he look lethargic in that fight? Absolutely, but I am not going to blame the wine on it, and if it was a contributing factor then that is truly your own fault for being that stupid. 

Costa is a specimen. There is no doubt about it, and the power he possesses is something that can’t be taught. However, the one thing that really catches my eye when I watch him fight is his ability to really tie his combinations together and never ignore the body. Many fighters are headhunters, but Costa has an old-school style in which he will go to the body and head with perfect ratio and balance. Your chin is your chin, but the liver is a different story and in doing that, he is giving himself more of a chance to finish you off. He also has damaging body kicks and a sneaky ability to get his kicks up high with deceiving speed. His grappling defense was on display against Romero, where he was able to really show his sense of strength, balance and ability to Whizzer away back to his feet. He showed great resilience in that fight, but I do have some issues with him. We haven’t seen much on his back, which is not a terrible thing, considering he does have a very good wrestling defense at 80% TDD, but his conditioning is a glaring concern here. Never going round and carrying a lot of muscle tissue, the body requires that much more oxygen to perform. As time goes on, lactic acid will begin to build up, and holding your hands up will begin to feel like you have ankle weights around your wrists, in turn making your shoulders create a terrible burn taking away beneficial pop in your strikes. Now, for all, we know he can have that cardio, but we haven’t seen it yet. His cage IQ is also a bit in question. He just doesn’t seem very sharp from a thinking standpoint when it comes to some of his on-the-fly decisions. He loads up with everything and, needs to understand that sometimes just touching the opposition is far more beneficial than loading up and looking for one big shot. 

All that said, the one thing that concerns me the most here is his confidence and the dog he has. How much dog does he really have? He showed it in the Romero fight, so we know it is there, but what happened in the Izzy fight? He folded. Wine, Nyquil, or whatever you pin it on, the fact of the matter is, something mentally was there that you couldn’t rest. I get that the night before the fight is extremely anxiety-riddled, but after you make weight, that is a victory in itself and you tend to feel tons better from a mental standpoint and a hydration standpoint. So is there a mental component there that we really just don’t know about or we should be concerned about? Let’s look at the pros and cons here.

Pros:

  • Boxing: His boxing is extremely sharp, and he has an old-school vibe in his approach. He works the body with intent and just doesn’t stay upstairs.
  • Wrestling defense: From what I see, his wrestling defense is pretty on point and can be a factor early.
  • Power: This is something not everyone has, and Costa has a lot of it.
  • High kick and body kick: His body kicks are accurate and thundering, and his high kick is extremely fast and sneaky.

Cons:

  • Cage IQ: He doesn’t always make the greatest decisions. I have seen this on numerous occasions.
  • Cardio: One of the biggest factors in this fight for me. He has never been to 5 rounds, and in a fight where Vettori has seen the fifth rounds in his last three fights, this can be unfamiliar waters for him.
  • The dog in him: Contender Series Brazil, Costa actually did quit in a fight. The conditioning was so bad that he actually just folded over and quit. You have to question that a bit when he is fighting someone that is all dog.

I really have no clue if Costa made all the changes needed, but the cardio is really an X-factor for me here. I am not sure he can go 5 rounds with someone that just keeps applying pressure and is so durable in the process. Even if Vettori fails on his TD attempts, it still expends a ton of energy and that is honestly my biggest fear. That he looks sharp for 2.5 rounds and then starts to just decline while Vettori keeps walking forward and backing him up. I know Vettori is durable, but Costa has the power to put anyone away and if Vettori is not careful, there is no doubt in my mind that Costa can and will finish him, but I just think this is a fight that goes a little deeper and Vettori starts to take over late.

The Pick: Vettori

(Check out MadLabs MMA here.)

Update on main event

My pick will remain the same but there is something going on with Costa, and it is drawing a major red flag. There is no way someone can be this stupid, coming in at 211 pounds two days before the fight and was totally fine with it. Blaming the UFC for just out of the clear blue sky offering him a catchweight fight, then somehow trying to twist it on Vettori like he did something wrong here. This was either a plan to come in heavy on purpose or there just isn’t something right with Costa in the head. Either way. The scales will tell a lot, but it is so hard to not throw some juice on Vettori here in a fight I was ultimately going to leave alone. I am not wavering and hope this backfires in his face. Vettori rolls late and punishes him. 

MadLab’s Action

Vettori -155 (Put in Early)
Under 4.5 -135 

Daily Fantasy

Vettori 8600
100 + Points 3 of 10
Current Market Value 3 of 10
Hedge 7 of 10

From 185 to 195 to 205. I can deal with the 195, but 205 can get a little dangerous. I am still going in hard on Vettori, but I will taper back some. I understand that the danger is very high in the first two rounds, but if this goes past that, Vettori owns him.

Costa 7600
100 + Points 3 of 6
Current Market Value 5 of 6
Hedge 3 of 10

The guy should be cut after this. He comes in with a huge advantage now. He has high upside in the beginning of this fight, but coming in bigger means needing more oxygen to survive and perform. If he doesn’t get it done early, Vettori will start to own him. So is the upside there? Yes. However, the upside will fall off the ledge after Round 2 depending on the pace. 

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