Despite reported plans to field a middleweight headliner between former champion Robert Whittaker and most recent title chaser, Paulo Costa a week prior at an April 10 event — the latter has rejected that proposal, with the matchup still scheduled to headline an April 17 event.
Scheduled to make his Octagon return at the April 17 event against former champion, Robert Whittaker in a potential title-eliminator — the pairing follows what promises to be an important month for the 185-pound division, with a headliner between Darren Till and Marvin Vettori slated for the April 10 event.
According to a report from MMA Fighting reporter, Guilherme Cruz, the promotion had attempted to rebooked Whittaker vs. Costa a week prior at the April 10 event, however, the Brazilian’s side rejected that proposal, with the bout now remaining on the April 17 card.
Hoping to potentially earn rematches against incumbent middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya as he attempts to add the light heavyweight title to his trophy cabinet at UFC 259 — both Whittaker and Costa have dropped second round knockout defeats to the Kiwi-Nigerian striker.
Headlining UFC Fight Island 3 in July, Whittaker met with the above mentioned former welterweight title chaser, Till, defeating the Liverpool striker over the course of five frames in a close back-and-forth unanimous decision win.
Taking co-main event honours beneath a lightweight title unification clash of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October, Whittaker again prevailed in a unanimous decision showing, knocking back the streaking, Jared Cannonier in a rescheduled matchup.
Undefeated in his first five Octagon outings prior to his one-sided second round knockout loss to rival, Adesanya in Abu Dhabi, UAE — Brazilian powerhouse Costa had overcome some notable division names. Besting multiple-time title chaser and upcoming Bellator debutante, Yoel Romero in a close decision win — the Belo Horizonte native bested Uriah Hall, Johny Hendricks, Oluwale Bamgbose, and Gareth McLellan to boot.
As of writing, it’s currently unknown where the organization plan to field those pair of April 10 and April 18 Fight Night events, with their March scheduled which finishes with a UFC 260 double-header of title fights scheduled to land at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Following his unanimous decision return to the winner-enclosure at UFC 258 on Saturday, one-time interim middleweight championship challenger, Kelvin Gastelum noted his interest in serving as a short-notice backup for either once scheduled foe, Whittaker or Costa if the UFC required his services.