A middleweight bout between contenders Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa is reportedly being targeted for a UFC Fight Night card on April 17.
Sherdog.com first reported that Whittaker vs. Costa is being targeted for the April 17 date, though a location has not been confirmed yet. The report suggests Las Vegas as a possible destination for the event. But with coronavirus-related travel restrictions, especially for international fighters, UFC president Dana White recently admitted that he isn’t sure where fights are going to be held in the coming months.
According to the report, Whittaker vs. Costa will be a five-round, non-title headliner. That means no interim title or vacant title is scheduled to be on the line despite UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya moving up to fight UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Costa’s team had previously made the argument that a belt should be on the line, but apparently, the UFC disagrees.
Whittaker (22-5) is the No. 1 contender in the UFC middleweight division. The former champ is coming off of back-to-back decision wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier on Fight Island that further cemented his place as the top fighter in the weight class outside of Adesanya. In fact, Adesanya is Whittaker’s only loss at 185lbs. He’s 10-1 overall as a UFC middleweight, including notable wins over Yoel Romero (twice), Ronaldo Souza, Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall, and Brad Tavares.
Costa (13-1) is the No. 2 contender in the UFC middleweight division. He’s coming off of a brutal TKO loss to Adesanya back at UFC 253 in what was his first career defeat. Prior to that loss, Costa had gone 5-0 in the UFC including notable wins over Romero and Hall. Despite losing to Adesanya in brutal fashion, beating Whittaker would put Costa right back in line to potentially fight for the belt before year’s end.
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