BOSTON – For Massachusetts native Randy Costa, Friday at TD Garden is going to be something special, and he thinks he has the perfect dance partner to deliver a “Fight of the Night”-worthy performance.
Costa (4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) takes on the appropriately named Boston Salmon at UFC on ESPN 6 in a clash that the 25-year-old says represents a dream come true when he shares the fight card with his mentor, and the man he calls “The GOAT,” Joe Lauzon.
“Having my first amateur fight back in 2014, I never thought I’d one, get to the UFC; two, fight at the Garden; three, fight on the same card as the ‘GOAT,’” Costa said after an open workout session at Peter Welch’s boxing gym in Boston. “Now I get all three of those in one night. It’s kind of surreal to me. I’m just living in the moment and it’s going to be a big night for both myself and Lauzon. This is a legit dream – it’s pretty outrageous.”
Costa is hyped ahead of the biggest night of his MMA career, but while he admits the special nature of the event, he also said he’s aware of his need to keep a lid on his emotions in order to deliver the performance and the result he wants.
“I’m literally the middle of a dream,” he said. “There isn’t any other way to look at it. I’ve trained so hard to get to this point right here, and this week is the most crucial to make sure you don’t get bombarded with those emotions, you know? Let those emotions come after the fight, where everything settles down and you’re like, ‘Holy (expletive). I just fought at the Garden.’ But now is not the time to let it happen. The time right now is to focus on (Friday), and Boston and I are going to fight. And then afterwards, things can set in and go, ‘Holy (expletive). I just fought in the Garden, and on the same night as Lauzon. This is pretty outrageous.’”
The matchup itself offers Costa an unusual dynamic. The pair were originally set to train together, and Salmon (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) offered Costa the chance to stay at his house and train with him. But that all changed when Costa got the call offering Salmon as an opponent. “The Zohan” recalled the conversation with a smile.
“I was supposed to train with him, and I gave him a call and I said, ‘I have good news and bad news,’” Costa said. “He was like, ‘What’s the good news?’ I was like, ‘We’re probably going to be fighting on the same night again.’ He was like, ‘Really?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go and win $50,000. Let’s get this bonus. Let’s put on a show for everyone, and we’ll take full advantage of this.’”
The fight was signed, with the two fighters agreeing to lay it all on the line to deliver a spectacular matchup in their bantamweight preliminary card clash. Costa admitted he has a lot of time for Salmon, but also said he had no qualms about stepping into the cage and throwing down with someone he considers a friend.
“For $50,000 extra? Absolutely not,” Costa said. “We’re going to go out there and we’re going to put on a show. You won’t get me to say a single negative thing about Boston. He’s an awesome dude, period. No question about it – his skills are great. I’m excited to share the cage with someone with as much talent as him. I think his style and my style go very well together and it can be nothing short of fireworks. We’re both going to go out there and we’re just going to bang. There’s literally nothing else to it.”
Such is the level of respect Costa has for his opposite number, he said he would love nothing more than for the pair of them to be celebrating matching bonus checks at the end of the night after securing “Fight of the Night” honors.
“We’re going to get ‘Fight of the Night,’” he said. “I guess I can’t be selfish because he’s a friend of mine. Had I disliked Boston, I’d be like: ‘(Expletive) that. I want “Performance of the Night.”‘ But I like Boston, so let’s share this.
“I want a banger of a fight that people go, ‘Holy (expletive). The fans won that fight.’ I just want a good show where people know who I am, who he is, and I want to set the path moving forward that, when it’s time to fight, these two guys are going to fight.”
And while the respect between the pair is clear, Massachusetts native Costa knows that he’s taking on a man who shares a name with the city in which they’re competing. He admits there could be some split loyalties in the stands when the pair meet on Friday night, but said he wants the fans to know exactly who the local fighter is, and to throw their vocal support behind him on fight night.
“Obviously, his name is Boston and he has a lot of ties with Boston,” he said. “But I’m from here, so fans better not be cheering for him, they’d better be cheering for me.”