With Chimaev teasing a move up to middleweight for his next fight, former title challenger Costa appears to be the perfect opponent to welcome him back to the division. The pair was involved in a confrontation at the UFC Performance Institute earlier this month, which sparked up interest in a potential fight.
But Olympic gold medalist wrestler and former UFC dual-champion Cejudo thinks Costa (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) poses multiple threats to Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC), whomm he doesn’t see being able to impose his will on the Brazilian.
“I personally think that’s a tough fight for Khamzat,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “Paulo has gone against world-class wrestlers and has won, has defended him – he wasn’t taken down by Yoel Romero. Yoel Romero’s got inside trips, Yoel Romero’s got double legs, he’s got all that under the sun. There’s a big difference of levels of wrestling when it comes to Khamzat and Yoel Romero.”
Costa edged out Yoel Romero in a back-and-forth war at UFC 241, where the Olympic silver medalist was unable to keep Costa down. Not only does Cejudo think Costa will make Chimaev work in the grappling department, but he sees his fight-ending power as a threat, too, which is why he’s picking him to hand Chimaev his first loss if they do end up fighting.
“Paulo Costa is always digging to the body. He’s got power in his hands. He’s always looking for that left body shot,” Cejudo said. “He’s going to welt you over. He’s going to will you over, and I think that’s what makes Paulo Costa extremely dangerous.
“I’m going Paulo Costa. Why? Because I think the wrestling is going to be neutralized, and I do believe that he’s a little more experienced in the UFC than Khamzat Chimaev.”