Alessandro Costa will never forget the moment he got the call that he would be making his UFC debut on December 17.
“I was with my physical therapist doing a massage and my manager asked for a photo of my visa,” Costa recalled. “I thought it was strange; my head was in other thoughts. I didn't realize that it could be for an upcoming fight. I sent the photo of my visa, and he told me that I would fight on December 17th against Amir Albazi.”
Costa made his first appearance inside the UFC APEX earlier this year on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he defeated Juan Andres Luna by split decision. The APEX is a unique environment to fight in, with many fighters having mixed opinions about getting to fight there, but Costa always knew he would make his way back.
“Since the first time I stepped foot here I always wanted to come back,” Costa said. “I told myself that I was going to come back here. This came very quickly. I didn't expect it to be this year, but everything has a purpose.”
On Saturday night at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland, Costa will take on Amir Albazi, the No. 8-ranked flyweight in the world. Albazi has gone 3-0 inside the Octagon, with wins coming over Malcolm Gordon, Zhalgas Zhumagulov and, most recently, Francisco Figueiredo.
Being able to fight someone of Albazi’s caliber is motivating for Costa.
“This debut, this fight...I think it was something I was always looking forward to,” Costa said. “Since before I was here, I always spoke that I wanted to debut with someone with a big name, to be a good debut. That moment came. This doesn't pressure me and doesn't control me. It is something I had planned, and I am happy.”
Like many athletes, making it to the highest stage of mixed martial arts is a dream come true. He first started training in 2010, being inspired by Brazilian legend José Aldo. Costa noted that Aldo will always be an inspiration to him because of who he was inside and outside of the Octagon.
Costa has spent time training with Irene Aldana and Alexa Grasso, two highly talented female UFC fighters who sit in the Top 5 of their respective weight classes. Costa believes that he has earned this moment to be here and relates his success back to two key factors.
“I think my persistence is unique. I was a person who worked since I was a child,” Costa said. “If I put something in my head, I do everything to achieve it…I put it in my mind and today I am here. This is one of the things that makes me different from everyone else and makes me unique. My focus and my mind.”
The 26-year-old isn’t focused on what Albazi is bringing to the table and the record that he has compiled. Costa is solely focused on the abilities he possesses. He steps into the bout against Albazi riding a seven-fight win streak. “Nono” has earned six of his eleven wins by submission and three by knockout, and when the Octagon door closes, he is going to bring the power.
“He's going to have a very different fight than he's ever had,” Costa said. “He is a fighter who uses jiu-jitsu a lot, and from what I saw in his previous fights, his opponents were just trying to defend themselves. I am different. If he puts me down, I attack. That will be something that he might get frustrated with.”
The only thing better than making it to the UFC is having an incredible performance in your debut and leaving with a win. That mindset is no different for Costa, and he’s dedicating it to everyone back in Brazil who has supported him up until this point.
“This is my dream,” Costa said. “The people who saw me grow up in Manaus, who saw my effort until today...this dream is not only mine, but theirs as well. For my family, for my students in Mexico, for my friends in Manaus. It is something that I said would happen, that I would get here. This can be an inspiration for other athletes, who saw me start in Manaus, who saw how I started, and where I came from.”
UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on December 17, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!