UFC's Paulo Costa Denies Striking Nurse After COVID-19 Vaccination Card Argument

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJune 1, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 23: Paulo Costa of Brazil prepares to fight Marvin Vettori of Italy in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC middleweight fighter Paulo Costa has denied that he struck a nurse with his elbow after a dispute involving a COVID-19 vaccination card in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

TMZ Sports relayed information from an original report that appeared on globo.com regarding the allegations:

"The outlet reported that Costa told nurses he wanted a vaccination. But, according to the report, Costa backed out of getting the shots, yet still wanted the filled-out vaccine card.
"Globo.com reported when a female nurse tried to stop him from leaving with the card, the 31-year-old hit her with an elbow. She reportedly complained of swelling in her lips."

According to Jesse Holland of MMA Mania, Costa claims he is vaccinated and just wanted an immunization record. He denies throwing an elbow at the nurse.

Costa was questioned by police and released.

In response to the accusations, Costa released a statement through his technical and legal teams on social media (h/t Danny Segura of MMA Junkie):

"The recent articles published by the media involving athlete Paulo Costa – 'Borrachinha' [sic] referring to what happened in a shopping mall in the city of Contagem/MG generated questions, so we must present come clarifications. First, tending to sensationalism, these are reckless and inconsistent. The athlete Paulo Costa – 'Borrachinha' [sic] and his entire team reject any type of violence.
"'Borrachinha' is a high-performing athlete, full time dedicated to training, to following the rules, guidelines, and disciplines. According his philosophy and human conduct this kind of allegations are completely incompatible with his history and way of life. The accusations and facts narrated do not reflect the reality of what happened.
"The fact will be carefully investigated and the appropriate legal measures for their perfect clarification will be taken."

Costa (13-2) is the No. 4 middleweight contender, per the UFC rankings. The 31-year-old Brazilian started his career 13-0 before losing a UFC middleweight title bout to champion Israel Adesanya and then a unanimous decision to No. 3 middleweight contender Marvin Vettori.

Costa is scheduled to fight Luke Rockhold (16-5) at UFC 278 on August 20.