Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was all set to take on former middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC Fight Night event on April 17, but the fight is now off as Costa pulls out.
Costa (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) was supposed to face Whittaker (22-5 MMA, 13-3 UFC) at UFC Fight Night on April 17, but a “severe” case of the flu has rendered him unable to properly prepare for the five-round bout with the former middleweight champion. Ag Fight first reported it.
Costa is dealing with the severe flu and can’t fully prepare for the pivotal fight, according to those people. It’s still unclear if the promotion will move the matchup to a new date or find a new opponent for ex-champion Whittaker. One option currently on the table is rescheduling the match for UFC cards on May 1 or May 8. However, no new date has been finalized at this time.
Robert Whittaker vs Paulo Costa was important for the division
Whittaker, 30, lost the UFC middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in October 2019 but turned his momentum around in 2020. Fighting twice in the calendar year, Whittaker defeated Darren Till and Jared Cannonier – both by unanimous decision.
Following his October victory over Cannonier, all signs pointed toward Whittaker being next in line for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. However, Whittaker’s post-fight comments steered Dana White in a different direction and Adesanya was paired up with UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz instead.
Costa, 29, has not competed since an unsuccessful title challenge in October. At UFC 253, Costa was finished via strikes by Adesanya in Round 2. The finish, and subsequent mocking celebration by Adesanya, seemed to rub Costa the wrong way. Shortly after the fight, Costa vowed to storm back and defeat Adesanya.
Adesanya (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), the reigning middleweight champion, came up short in his bid to become a two-division titleholder, when he fell short of light-heavyweight gold vs. Jan Blachowicz (28-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC) at UFC 259. If Adesanya had won, it would’ve launched him into superstar status and potentially put him on a collision course with Jones at heavyweight.
Following UFC 259, Adesanya spoke at the post-fight press conference about what’s next for him. One of the questions posed to “The Last Stylebender” was whether or not he’s still interested in a potential superfight with Jones. To which Israel said at this moment he will go back to 185lbs division but never say never fo Jon Jones superfight.
What do you guys think should be the next move in the UFC’s middleweight division?
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