MMA manager Wallid Ismail says the UFC is targeting an important middleweight matchup between Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker for March.
Ismail told Portal Do Vale Tudo that the UFC has already offered the fight to Costa and Whittaker for March. The manager said that Costa has agreed to the fight and now they are just waiting on Whittaker to sign off on his end of the deal. Ismail also said there is the possibility that the fight could be for the interim middleweight belt.
Costa and Whittaker are currently the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked contenders, respectively, behind UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. With the champ set to move up to 205lbs for his next fight and challenge UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, it leaves question marks about what happens to the middleweight division. Although Adesanya has said that he plans on moving back down to 185lbs, if he goes in there and beats Blachowicz, he might just opt to stick at light heavyweight.
That leaves Whittaker and Costa in a strange spot. Whittaker, by all accounts and purposes, deserves to fight for the middleweight belt next. After losing his title to Adesanya at UFC 243 in October 2019, Whittaker has since defeated Darren Till and Jared Cannonier to reclaim his spot as the division’s No. 1 contender. As for Costa, he is coming off of a knockout loss to Adesanya and is looking to get back to work.
Costa vs. Whittaker always seemed like a logical fight for both men, so the UFC targeting this matchup is not surprising. What is surprising is that Ismail says the UFC is considering an interim title. Adesanya just defended his belt in September, so it seems premature to hand out an interim belt, even if he does plan on moving to 205lbs. However, if the UFC has more intel on Adesanya’s plans and thinks there is a good chance that he won’t go back to 185lbs, then an interim title does make sense.
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