Retired bantamweight Scott Jorgensen scored some big wins throughout his MMA career, but he never won a major championship. For UFC 283 debutant Melquizael Costa, sharing an aspect of Jorgensen’s appearance served as inspiration.
Costa had to endure a lot like Jorgensen with vitiligo before he accepted himself. The disorder causes the skin to lose its color, and it started changing his body when he was 4.
” My childhood was extremely troubled,” Costa stated on the latest episode of MMA Fighting Podcast Trocacao Franka . “There was no internet or social media back then. I lived in a favela and didn’t feel any prejudice from other kids, but their parents often pulled them away from me thinking I had Hansen’s disease. This is not cool. People didn’t have much knowledge back then.”
Going through so many difficult situations as a child made Costa “hate everybody” and not be around anyone other than members of his family.
“I’m from Para, and it’s always 104 degrees there, but I would always wear long sleeve shirts and pants and wouldn’t take my clothes off for anything,” he said. I began isolating myself from the rest of the world. I felt good when someone hated me, and that became who I am. It was cool to be hated. It felt wrong when someone shook my hand. I put the blame on vitiligo for everything. Sometimes I would screw up and blame it on vitiligo. That began to affect my mind.”
Costa’s mother suggesting moving to a smaller town and re-starting his life by living with one of his 10 siblings. His life changed when his sister invited four friends over and he said “they were super cool to me and hugging me,” which was something he wasn’t used to.
” It was my first experience with friends and I still have them to this day.” Costa said. He started boxing training shortly afterwards. “One of my friends invited me to go to the gym, I put gloves and helmet on, and all he did was land one punch and knock me out. That was terrible, but it was also good [laughs].”
“They invited me to train jiu-jitsu, and I had no idea what that was,” he continued. He said that he would submit me using one hand, even though my friend was hurt. To learn .”
, I registered.
Costa again had to confront his demons on his first day in jiu-jitsu, when the coach asked him to take his t-shirt off to train and take a picture with the whole crew after practice.
“I love showing my body now,” he said. “If I had someone like this to look up to when I was a kid, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through all that.”
One of these people was Jorgensen. He and Costa met via UFC’s videogame more than 10 years ago. Jorgensen’s video game on MMA dispelled the myth that the Brazilian teenage was not allowed to participate in MMA because he had vitiligo.
” I was watching the videogame when Scott Jorgensen appeared,” Costa stated. “Holy sh*t! Is that a fake character?” I was shocked to see that he was actually a fighter with vitiligo. That made me realize that I might be able to fight too. It was insane.
” My greatest dream is to be in the UFC. The belt can wait. You know, I am an inspiration to many people. That motivates me. Being different was a problem for me, and now I have a problem being normal [laughs]. I know I’ll stand out in a photo, and I know I’ll stand out wherever I go because I’m different.”