- Robert Whitaker will take on Paulo Costa in a five-round middleweight headliner on April 17th.
- Whitaker is the no. 1 ranked middleweight contender while Costa is the 2nd ranked contender.
- No interim title will be on the line but the winner of this fight could earn the next crack at champion Israel Adesanya.
The UFC’s top two middleweight contenders will collide in a massive showdown on April 17th.
According to a report from Sherdog.com, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whitaker will take on no. 2 Paulo Costa in a five-round non-title headliner. The event still has no venue but the intel says that Las Vegas is a possible destination for the April show.
No Interim Title Fight
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) January 2, 2021
The Brazilian Costa called out Whitaker after the latter took out Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision at UFC 254 and soon after, the UFC started working on making this higgh-profile middleweight fight happen. With UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya moving up in weight and challenging Jan Blachowicz for the 205-pound belt on March 6th, Costa’s manager was one of the many voices that called for an interim title bout against Whitaker to keep the division active.
That proposal made sense as Whitaker is currently the no. 1 ranked middleweight contender while Costa, despite losing via knockout to Adesanysa in his last bout, is the number 2 ranked middleweight in the UFC. However, it appears that the UFC doesn’t agree and wants Izzy to keep his old belt after March 6th. But while no belt will be on the line for the Whitaker vs Costa bout, it will produce a clear number 1 contender whom Adesanya could face next when he returns to his division after the Blachowicz fight.
The current 185-pound champion however, has already beaten these two top contenders. Adesanya took the belt from Whitaker via KO at UFC 243 in 2019 and Izzy knocked out Paulo Costa in his second title defense at UFC 253 in September 2020. With the number 3 and 4 contender losing to Whitaker in the Reaper’s last two bouts, there’s a possibility that no. 5 Marvin Vettori could figure in the title picture as well. But first things first.
No.1 vs No. 2
— LowKickMMA.com (@LowKick_MMA) January 26, 2021
Whitaker has cemented his status as the division’s number one ranked contender with back to back wins over no.4 Darren Till and no.3 Jared Cannonier last year. The Reaper is 10-1 inside the UFC with his only loss coming at the hands of Adesanya. The 30-year old from Auckland owns notable wins over Yoel Romero ( twice), Jacare Souza, Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, Till and Cannonier. The former TUF: The Smashes tournament winner has a record of 22-5 with nine knockouts and five wins via submission.
On the other hand, Borrachinha won his first five UFC bouts, including for via knockout, before running into Adesanya at UFC 253. Despite the loss, Costa kept his no. 2 ranking and he has a record of 13-1 with 11 knockouts and one win via submission. The 29-year old from Minas Gerais, Brazil has notable victories over Johny Hendricks, Uriah Hall, and Yoel Romero.
Beating Whitaker will put Costa back to the number one spot and possibly earn a rematch against the Last Stylebender. However, Whitaker is also eyeing a second crack at Adesanya and wants his old belt back. The odds for this bout has not yet been released but this should be an explosive affair that could go either way with both fighters possessing one-punch knockout power.