Paulo Borrachinha Costa: 'I Will Knock Out Johny Hendricks'

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Regarded as one of the biggest hopes for the future of Brazilian mixed martial arts, UFC middleweight Paulo "Borrachinha" Henrique Costa is preparing to face a former champion in just his third fight with the largest MMA promotion in the world.

Yet, even with so little Octagon time to his credit, the 26-year-old powerhouse (10-0) is confident he'll leave New York City's Madison Square Garden with a victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 217 on November 4. Despite this fight presenting such a big opportunity for Borrachinha, it turns out Hendricks wasn't his first choice of opponent.

Days before the announcement of his bout against the former welterweight titleholder, Borrachinha took to social media to challenge one of the legends of Brazilian MMA in Vitor Belfort.

"There was nothing special about it, [Belfort] was offered to me because he's ranked 11th and the UFC wanted me to fight someone in the rankings," Borrachinha said. "And when they told me, I said I'd accept it. They said they were going to talk to him, and I made it public. That was the intention of the challenge -- it was not a challenge from scratch. It was based on the UFC's proposal."

Borrachinha said the promotion still tried to get other ranked middleweights to fight him, but no one was able to accept the fight on that date. Thus, Hendricks' name entered the discussion. The duel will take place in the middleweight division, where "Bigg Rigg" has competed twice under the UFC banner. Hendricks won his debut against Hector Lombard in February but then lost to Tim Boetsch back in June.

Nevertheless, Borrachinha believes the bearded brawler Hendricks will prove to be a tougher task than a matchup with Belfort would have provided.

"It will be harder to fight against him than against Vitor," Borrachinha said. "Against Vitor, it would be easier, because I already trained with him and I know very well what he does. With Hendricks, it will be more complicated. I don't see why I shouldn't fight Vitor. If he had accepted the fight, I would've liked it very much, but it's not something I'm chasing. Who knows?"

With Belfort out of the picture for now, Borrachinha is instead focusing on Hendricks, and the Brazilian already got a precise idea how he's going to get past the former welterweight champion.

"I'm very confident," he said. "I'm looser, lighter, and everyone will see that I'm going to knock him out. A knockout within a minute of the first round."

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