MMA fighter Melquizael Costa says he saw death closing in after Rafael Barbosa locked him in an anaconda choke during their lightweight title bout Saturday night in Bauru, Brazil .
After the two fighters hit the ground in the third and final round, Barbosa executed a nearly deadly chokehold that Costa had no chance of breaking out of. And, according to MMA Fighting, Barbosa claims he told referee Emerson Pereira Saez that Costa was out, but the referee stood next to the athletes for 90 seconds without checking if Costa was still in the fight.
“I told you,” Barbosa said he yelled to the referee as soon as he released the choke and Costa lay unconscious on the ground. Disturbing video of the fight reportedly went viral online on Monday.
“He locked the anaconda choke, and when I turned to the wrong side, I went out,” Costa said.. “The first thing I remember is opening my eyes and seeing my coaches and a doctor over me, calling my name, and I couldn’t breathe. It was agonizing. I only came back to normal when I got to the hospital and they gave me some serum.”
Costa remained in a local hospital overnight and was released Sunday morning. He’s expected to undergo further testing this week to determine if he suffered any other side effects as a result of being unconscious for so long.
“I saw in the video that I went out and my eyes were open,” Costa said. “You might think I’m awake, but I was already out. I moved a couple of times, but I was having seizures. My corner and his corner yelled that I was out, but the referee said he would only stop the fight if I was out. And I was! Every referee touches the fighter to see if they are out, but he never touched me. My opponent stopped the fight. Otherwise, I would be dead.”