The sport of mixed martial arts often gets a lot of flack from first-time fans for the brutality they see during a bloody bout, or insults from fighters looking to make a name for themselves on the microphone.
For UFC fighter Randy Costa, he’s letting his actions speak louder than any words he could ever throw out during a press conference or an interview, and he’s hoping others across the sport can follow suit.
Born in Taunton, Massachusetts, Costa said he fell into the fighting game by accident, looking for something to do during his time away from the football field.
“I did martial arts like every other kid in the world, and then I was looking for a sport to do in the offseason of football, something contact,” Costa said. “So I started boxing when I was 11ish, started doing kickboxing through high school, wrestled in high school and then I started Lauzon MMA and the rest has kind of been history.”
While some fighters look into MMA because they’ve been fighting away from the cage in backyards or on the street and want to do it professionally, Costa had a much different backstory.
“I’ve never been that kind of person that’s been in any kind of conflict, any kind of fight ever,” Costa said. “I’ve never been in a street fight, never hit anyone, no one’s ever hit me. The extent of my fights is what you can see on Tapology or MixedMartialArts.com.”
“I feel like I have a different approach than a lot of these guys. Lot of these guys get so focused on it being a fight,” Costa continued. “I’m looking at it as a sport, a competition. I’m competing within a ruleset and I’m having a f—ing damn good time doing it.”
You could also classify Costa’s approach as unique in another way, as he doesn’t let his mouth write any checks that he can’t cash later on.
While fighters like Conor McGregor and Colby Covington have made names for themselves in the UFC with their trash-talking and personalities, Costa is looking to change the tone when it comes to the world of MMA.
“There’s a negative stigma with MMA stuff, especially in the UFC nowadays with everyone trying to be Conor McGregor,” Costa said. “You don’t have to be that way. You don’t have to create a name for yourself by being a f—ing asshole to everyone.”
The immense respect shown throughout the build-up for the recent lightweight title fight between undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier created even more reasoning for the positivity Costa is preaching for UFC fighters across the company.
>>RELATED: Pick-Six: Top UFC cards of all time
“Look how much attention that’s getting, it’s blowing up,” Costa said. “Some of the worst ratings the UFC has seen this year is the card that Colby Covington was on. He does nothing but talk s—. I respect him as an athlete, of course, but I don’t understand where all the s—talk needs to come from. It’s just, you’re in a sport. There’s no reason to degrade someone on a personal level when you’re competing with them. It’s stupid to me.”
How did Costa build up this mentality? Part of it can be attributed to the New England native’s training at the place where most Massachusetts-made fighters build up their game: Lauzon MMA.
Led by Brockton, Massachusetts native Joe Lauzon, a UFC veteran with 43 fights under his belt, the gym has provided Costa a chance to work alongside some of the area’s best fighters,
“All of the local guys, all of the New England guys you see on UFC Boston, I train with them every Saturday,” Costa said. “We’re all boys, we’re all brothers, we’re all just grinding it out together.”
With lots of local talent around him at Lauzon MMA, including Lauzon himself, Calvin Kattar, Rob Font, Kyle Bochniak and numerous others, Costa now finds himself as a member of the “New England Cartel,” hoping to build up a rock solid reputation for the city of Boston and its fighters.
>>RELATED: Pick-Six: Best UFC fighters of all time
“They’re all great mentors to me,” Costa said. “I surround myself with the best guys around. They say that you’re a product of the guys you surround yourself with, and if you look at the guys I surround myself with, it’s all world class athletes, and they’re not f—ing assholes.”
While Costa may not want to follow in the same footsteps, Conor McGregor himself fought at a UFC event in Massachusetts when the company shipped up to Boston in 2015. Costa will get the chance to fight in the same arena in front of a hometown crowd on October 18 against Boston Salmon, a fitting name for an opponent in Massachusetts.
The hometown feel may provide some extra excitement for Costa and his family, friends and fans, but the 25-year-old isn’t letting the hype go to his head.
“I’m trying not to think about that so much, but just one year ago, I was fighting on the local scene,” Costa said. “So it just feels like another local fight to me in that regard. I brought a lot of people to local shows, now I get to do it at the Garden.”
“It’s just f—ing unbelievable,” Costa continued. “I get to put on a show in front of the people I love and the people who have supported me since day one, even as an amateur. Now I get to show that all that support was put towards a good cause and I get to have a f—ing night on October 18 and that’s it.”
“To be fighting on the same card as all these guys, especially Joe Lauzon, who’s such a huge name. He’s not only a great athlete, great competitor, he’s a great friend of mine,” Costa said. “I consider him family. To be fighting on the same card as a future Hall of Famer and a really good friend of mine, that’s something that words can’t get put into.”
As Costa fights alongside his Boston brethren, he’ll also have another friend by his side in spirit.
Costa’s longtime friend and former training partner, Devin Carrier, died in a car crash in 2016 when Carrier was 21 years old. Now, Costa is making sure the fallen MMA fighter’s name is never forgotten, bringing a picture of his friend to weigh-ins to bring him along for the ride.
“Devin was a f—ing real good friend of mine, even outside the gym,” Costa said. “Him and I were real good friends. We knew each other from outside the gym before we knew each other inside the gym. It’s really cool now that I get to not only fulfill my own dream, but fulfill his dream and bring him along with me.”
“He’s not here physically, but he is here spiritually,” Costa continued. “If I have this platform where I can keep his name alive, then I’m going to do that. It’s me physically fighting, but it’s both of us in there. It’s a beautiful thing. I get to do this not only for myself, not only for him, but also his family. His family doesn’t want to see his name die.”
Costa’s ultimate goal for his fight against Boston Salmon on October 18 is simple: He wants to use the opportunity to remember his friend in their home state.
“The only thing I’m looking forward to on October 18 is getting that fight, number one, and number two, holding my boy’s picture in the middle of the TD Garden,” Costa said. “I want Devin Carrier’s picture in the middle of the TD Garden and it’s going to be out of this f—ing world.”
As far as his expectations for the fight? You may as well bring the Boston Pops in for a rare TV appearance outside of their usual Fourth of July showcase, because Costa predicted a spectacle of his own.
“$50,000 fireworks show, that’s it,” Costa said. “It’s going to be a f—ing fight. Fight of the Night, that’s all there is to it. Boston and I are going to go in there and we’re going to put on a hell of a show in front of TD Garden. In front of my hometown, in front of the town that he was named after. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.”
Costa has long-term goals for the sport, as well. While they may not be championship gold at the moment, Costa is looking to make a name for both himself and Carrier in the MMA world, and gain a lot of green in the process.
“A lot of guys get so hungry with the belt, this, that and the other thing,” Costa said. “This is prize fighting. I’m trying to get in, make as much money as I can, create the biggest name for myself and build my brand.”
Costa wants to use his brand to open up his own gym in the future, alongside a pursuit of a career in either personal training or sports psychology to assist others in their own life journeys.
“Something that helped me get to where I am, I want to help other people get to where they want to be, as well,” Costa said. “And man, I’m trying to make some f—ing money. I don’t care about the belt, I care about the money.”
“Maybe this conversation’s going to be different five years down the road, but for now, I want the big fights, I want to create a name for myself and build my brand,” Costa continued. “You can’t fight forever, so I’m going to take my time right now and do as much as I can with it.””