The long-awaited middleweight bout between number two ranked Paulo “Borrachinha” Costa and top-ranked Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker is off after announcements came that Paulo Costa is out with the flu. The news was first reported by Ag. Fight.
Paulo Costa Is Out With the Flu, Looks To Reschedule Bout for May
Unfortunately, the April 17 fight between Costa (13-1-0 5-1-0 UFC) and former middleweight champion Whittaker (23-5-0 13-3-0 UFC) has been called off after Costa and his team announced that he could no longer continue in his camp due to a severe case of the flu. It was confirmed by both Ariel Helwani and Ag. Fight that Costa’s condition is not COVID-19, something that bodes well for prospects of rescheduling the fight.
The potential bout between Costa and Whittaker proved to be one that would provide answers in the 185-pound division, as Whittaker is coming off two straight wins against Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. Dana White has hinted that Israel Adesanya’s next fight after his loss to Jan Błahowicz would be against the winner of this bout, something that the MMA community has called for after Whittaker’s recent return to form.
After it was announced that Paulo Costa is out of his fight with Whittaker, his camp told Helwani that they are looking to reschedule for either May 1 or May 8. This fight is of major importance to Costa, as he looks to bounce back from a second-round TKO loss to Adesanya.
Implications in the Middleweight Title Picture
For the matchmakers, rescheduling the fight makes the most sense. Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland are scheduled to fight this weekend, and Cannonier is still nursing a broken arm suffered in his last fight against Whittaker. Till and Marvin Vettori are scheduled to meet at UFC on ABC 2, as well. Additionally, Paulo Costa is out primarily due to an illness that does not pose any long-time threat. So the rescheduling dates targeted for May would likely allow Costa to recover and complete a substantial weight cut.
The middleweight division is no longer on hold, either. Adesanya has returned to 185 following his loss at UFC 259, and so he should be available for a fight in August or September, something that keeps with the timeframe of recovery for this fight. If Paulo Costa is out for only two more weeks, the division can keep moving, and the winner of the Whittaker-Costa fight would most likely get a crack at Adesanya’s title.
Update: Kelvin Gastelum To Replace Costa
Brett Okamoto of ESPN MMA has just reported the former middleweight title challenger and number eight ranked Kelvin Gastelum (17-6-0 1 NC, 11-6-0 1 NC UFC) will replace Costa on April 17. Gastelum bounced back after three straight losses with a win against Ian Heinisch, who was ranked 13 at the time.
Since Paulo Costa is out, how do you see the Gastelum vs Whittaker fight playing out? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images