Is Paulo Costa REALLY on Steroids?

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Paulo Costa is a Brazilian MMA fighter, who’s better known in his native country as Paulo Borrachinha. 

The ‘Eraser’ was undefeated in the UFC middleweight division, recently beating Yoel Romero (another religious fighter) but has been defeated by Israel Adesanya is a massive upset on September 26th 2020. Frankly he didn’t have a chance in that fight.

Before this battle of God’s two sons, controversy arose when Romero accused Costa of being on steroids. Romero pointed the finger at the Brazilian, after their first fight was cancelled in April 2019, due to Costa taking an undisclosed, banned substance. Paulo came out and said it was only “stomach medication” he used, effectively making him ineligible for the fight and being fined over $9,000.

Coincidentally, there is a current steroid epidemic in Brazil right now, with one study finding over 20% of men (in bodybuilding gyms) to be on the sauce. Furthermore, several Brazilian fighters in the UFC have also been caught taking PED’s including: Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and Alexandre Nogueira.

Was Romero right? Is Paulo secretly juicing? Or was the Brazilian actually telling the truth? Lets have a look at the evidence.

Paulo Costa Denies Taking Steroids

Paulo Costa has repeatedly denied accusations that he’s juicing. Here are some quotes he’s made on the topic:

β€œDespite being a false rumor, it creates that smoke. Until people realize it’s nothing, it gives people a bad image. However, there’s nothing else to say. Never really happened. I never used anything, no type of doping, anything. And USADA is here to prove it.”

It’s interesting that Paulo says “never REALLY happened”. This implies that something did happen, and perhaps was being taken behind the scenes. Also he keeps repeating himself by saying “nothing else to say, never really happened, I never used anything, no type of doping, anything”. When someone tells a lie, a popular technique is to repeat it several times to appear more convincing to the listener. Here’s an article explaining more about this repetition tactic: Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And again. And again. 

Derek Brunson, another UFC fighter, accused Paulo of taking steroids via Twitter.

In Paulo’s reply he says:

“I’ve never been caught with anything” – MMA Junkie

This isn’t very convincing language from the Brazilian, choosing his words wisely – saying he’s never been caught, rather than he’s 100% natural.

So, although Paulo is claiming to be natty; already we can see in his comments that he’s guilty of using language commonly associated with liars.

Also when a reporter asked him how he felt about other fighters constantly bringing this steroids topic up and accusing him, his coach Wallid Ismael, got very defensive shaking his head before Paulo can even answer. This was a very innocently-worded question, that surprisingly provoked a defensive response from his team.

Although these signs in verbal and non verbal language are telling, they aren’t 100% proof, so lets take a look at more evidence.

Body Composition

One of the best ways to tell if someone’s taking steroids, is by looking at photos of their body throughout their whole life. AKA their gains timeline. As a result, you can see if they blew up in size at any point (indicating steroid-use).

However, we were unable to find any young photos of Paulo.

The next best way to see if someone could be juicing, is to look at their body composition.

Sometimes a person’s physique can give them away. However, it’s not fool-proof because someone can be on steroids and look fairly natural.

With Paulo, his physique doesn’t scream “steroids”. His muscle size is possible to attain naturally, although only feasible for someone with amazing genetics. Also it’s worth pointing out that his arms are possibly the only muscle group which are exceptionally developed on his body. His chest, traps and legs are average or fairly small in comparison.

However, there were a couple of things we spotted on Paulo’s body which are 2 common signs of steroid-use:



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A post shared by Paulo Costa (@borrachinhamma) on

Paulo Costa is very lean, yet in some photos/videos he looks somewhat bloated, particularly in the midsection. This is a common side effect of steroids, due to certain AAS causing water retention. Compounds such as dianabol, testosterone, anadrol and deca durabolin can cause this.

Exceptional Muscle Thickness

paulo costa steroids

Paulo sometimes displays great muscle thickness and fullness, which can be a sign of steroids. Certain compounds such as deca durabolin cause intracellular fluid retention, which makes your muscles look excessively full and pumped all day. It’s impossible for natural athletes to attain such levels of fullness, without taking AAS.

This type of thickness can often look like the person has been photoshopped, with people thinking their muscles have been enlarged (when they haven’t).

Controversial Before/After Picture

When Derek Brunson called out Paulo, he tweeted a picture of him looking a little chunky (see below).

paulo costa transformation

Paulo has stripped a tonne of body fat, whilst retaining (or possibly building) muscle.

Due to the different poses from the photos, it’s difficult to see how much lean muscle Paulo gained during this transformation.

However, it does look like he’s added a good amount of size, as well as burning fat. Bodybuilders will tell you that it’s virtually impossible to build muscle whilst cutting, unless steroids are used.

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Disproportionate Muscle Size

paulo costa legs

One giveaway of a person on steroids is a dramatic difference in muscle size, when comparing different muscles on their body.

When a natural athlete trains certain muscles, then doesn’t train another muscle group – there can be a difference in size.

However, when a steroid-user trains certain muscles, then neglects other muscles – this difference in size will be MUCH bigger.

You can see from looking at Paulo’s physique, his arms and shoulders are JACKED, but his calves in comparison look very small.

Natural athletes, who are genetically gifted, typically have a very well balanced physique (which is in proportion).


The evidence suggests that Paulo Costa is taking, or has taken, steroids during his lifetime.

His language is far from convincing when talking on the topic of his ‘natural status’. He has a tendency to look bloated from his midsection and his lower half (especially calves) are very disproportionate to his top half.

These 3 factors are enough for me to give a steroids verdict.

Also USADA’s drug testing protocol’s remain to be fairly weak, due to certain loopholes that can be taken by clever fighters, causing them to slip through the net. For example, one method athletes can use, is to say at the test that they’ve taken a certain supplement or medication…which if “tampered”, or it contains banned substances unknowingly – they can get let off the hook and avoid a suspension. Coincidentally, Costa did just that, by saying he took “stomach medication”.

Unfortunately we couldn’t retrieve any photos of Paulo during his younger days (in his teens), thus we haven’t been able to compile his gains timeline which would’ve given us a lot more evidence. Thus this verdict isn’t 100% certain, however we did find some evidence of steroid-use to go by.

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Ernst Peibst

Ernst Peibst | Writer

Ernst Peibst is an expert in anabolic steroids and PEDs with over 3,000 hours of research. He's been educating people for 7 years through his articles, written after studying science papers, expert books and consulting top doctors in the field. He is a former bodybuilder and creator of multiple fitness websites.

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Andrew Cumstead
Andrew Cumstead
2 years ago

ernst, old friend, it has been a while i didn’t think id need to leave you another comment for a long while but here we are it is a well known fact that paul allen is natty because arnold schwarzenegger told me so don’t you remember in hercules in yorkshire when odin told hercules “son costa rico has never taken aspirin” well i do you should do your research foolish child

7 months ago

Hi Andrew. Please abstain from name calling. Be respectful. Thank you

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