A pair of top-ranked middleweight fighters will battle in the UFC Fight Night 196 main event this Saturday night.
Former title contenders Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori will stand toe-to-toe in what should be a fantastic five-round main event. The bout is now scheduled as a light heavyweight contest after Costa had reported issues regarding his weight cut.
The Costa vs. Vettori main event will be the final bout of the main card that commences at 4 pm ET on ESPN+. The fight card will begin with the early prelims that commence at 1 pm ET all on ESPN+, as well. Fight fans can sign up to ESPN+ and watch live UFC fights here.
Continue reading for Costa vs. Vettori odds, betting tips, and staff predictions, and fight breakdown before UFC Fight Night 196.
Costa vs. Vettori Betting Odds
Marvin Vettori enters this weekend’s main event as a moderate betting favorite. The line has changed significantly since early August when Vettori and Costa were both able to be found at -120 odds in what was considered a pick ’em at the time.
Bet on UFC fights with MyBookie
Sign up now to secure a special first deposit bonus of up to $1,000.
Costa vs. Vettori staff predictions
This is one of the most compelling Fight Night main events in recent memory. It’s a difficult one to pick because particularly for Costa there will be a lot of unknowns. He is coming off of the first loss of his professional career so whether he will be tentative, or over-excitable to get back to the win column could play a factor. As well, unlike the Israel Adesanya fight, I think it is fair to bet on Vettori shooting for at least a few takedowns over 25 minutes.
Although a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Costa has not demonstrated that element of his game in the octagon as of yet, so while on paper he should have an advantage over Vettori, in practice we have seen what Vettori can do but Costa at this point only has a theoretically good grappling game.
In terms of pure martial arts technical skill, I give the nod to Costa, he is a more diverse striker with more fluidity in his body mechanics. This allows him to offer a bit more power on each of his shots, especially his hooks to the body which he digs so well by generating momentum with his entire body. Furthermore, his kicking game is better than Vettori’s, particularly his right body kick, which he uses to bridge the gap in entering punching range. It’s also important to note that because Vettori is a southpaw this kick will be open. If Costa comes out as he did prior to the Adasanye fight he can likely get off to a strong start, being more explosive, diverse, and more powerful however he does run the risk of relenting to Vettori’s pace if he gasses himself out.
Vettori’s best asset in this matchup is his relentlessness, he may not have the highest accuracy stats but he makes up for it because he throws and shoots so often. He typically has a very straight approach to his boxing, and the power comes from his arms more so than his entire build like Costa; however because of this he is able to punch while moving forward more easily. We know that Vettori is going to go forward in this fight, the big question is whether Costa can hinder that pressure by landing flush while standing his ground or find a way to circle out and negate Vettori’s momentum.
Vettori is very good at pushing through fatigue, and muscling through moments where his tiring foes falter, because Costa is such a fast-twitch and explosive fighter, his style isn’t suited to those same moments late in the fight.
Overall, I think that Costa has the skills to win out the earlier rounds, but at some point he will hit a breaking point against Vettori’s pace. If this point comes prior to the third round I see Vettori winning the last three, if this point comes after the third, Costa may be able to capture a 3-2 decision. However, I am more confident that Vettori wins the final two than that Costa wins the first two because of the unknowns after being out for roughly a year, so although it’s close I will give the nod to Vettori.
Prediction: Marvin Vettori to win by decision or late stoppage
Breaking the main event down between Costa vs. Vettori is challenging because both men have supreme skills, but have also shown to mentally take themselves out of a fight. We saw both Costa’s passivity and Vettori’s over-aggression when each fought the champ, Adesanya. In both cases, Costa and Vettori seemed to struggle with their fight IQ under the bright lights.
Costa a wrecking ball with athleticism. When he fights, he is able to fluidly maneuverer the octagon like a much smaller man. Then, when he decides it’s time, he unloads strikes with ferocity and power that few other 185ers can match. Costa is built like a bodybuilder, which often costs fighters cardio; but, in his case, he is able to maintain a high output throughout a fight. He lands, on average, 7 significant strikes per minute. Further, Costa is a sneaky wrestler. Offensively, he rarely uses this skillset; but, defensively, he has sound technique and brute strength that allows him to stuff 80% of takedown attempts. This is important because, as I said earlier, Costa might have the best power in the division so he wants the fight standing as much as possible.
Vettori, also incredibly strong, is a much different fighter than Costa. While Costa moves fluidly as he hunts the finishes, Vettori predatorily walks his opponent down. With his stone jaw and high guard, Vettori is willing to walk through his opponent’s flurry to get in tight. Once in the pocket, Vettori is home. Here he can land cracking shots to his opponent’s body or head. Or, if he chooses, he can wrestle his opponent down and smother them on the mat for rounds at a time. Once on the math, Vettori is able to rotate and spin on top of his opponent without giving up position as he looks to slip an arm under their neck. He has 9 submission wins, all of which have been by choke. Vettori’s biggest strengths, though, are his aggression, pressure, and cardio. Vettori does not let his opponents breathe, he will continually move forward, pressure them in tight, and force them into a grueling war, if he doesn’t finish them himself first.
This is going to be close. Vettori’s chin has withstood some serious punishment which he has walked through, seemingly, unfazed. Further, unless Costa can get the knockout, Vettori is going to make Costa work and go deeper into a fight than he ever has. Vettori could wrestle and pressure his way to a decision win; however, I’m backing Costa here. I spoke about the mental state of these two fighters earlier; and, when they’re mentally off, they struggle. Well, all week Vettori has been talking about his fights against Adesanya again rather than this upcoming bout. That tells me he is still hung up on his losses and could be distracted. Being distracted against a dangerous fighter like Costa will cause issues. I think Costa will be able to keep the fight standing and out kickbox Vettori for the win.
Prediction: Paulo Costa to win
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.