The UFC is running with the star power of the company’s middleweight champion Israel Adesanya as he’ll be challenging light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 on March 6. A win would be put Adesanya into an elite category has he’ll accomplish a rare feat of becoming a champion in two weight classes simultaneously.
While the opportunity is big for Adesanya, it puts the just of the 185-pound division on hold as they wait for the champion to return to the weight class and defend the title. In order to help move the division along, Paulo Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail has a solution. An interim title fight between Costa and former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
“This fight has been discussed ever since they first announced that Adesanya would fight the 205-pound champion Blachowicz,” Ismail said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Dana White said he wants this fight, that he would make this fight happen, and Whittaker said he would only fight for the belt next. We’re just waiting for Dana White to book this fight.”
Whittaker moved up to middleweight in 2014 and over the past six years he’s posted a 11-1 record on way to claiming the middleweight title. His lone loss at 185-pounds came at UFC 243 against Adesanya who took the title from Whittaker. Since losing his belt, he’s rebounded by securing wins over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.
Costa is coming off of the first loss of his career at UFC 253 when Adesanya stopped him in the second round. Prior to that he won his first five UFC bouts which include victories over Johny Hendricks, Uriah Hall and Yoel Romero.
“This is the best fight for 185, the No. 1 against the No. 2,” Ismail said. “The winner… Borrachinha will win, and with that win, imagine how many pay-per-views a rematch with Adesanya would do. It’s a business. It’s the best pay-per-view possible because Borrachinha and Adesanya really hate each other, but we can’t leave the division on hold. That’s why we have to make this for the interim belt. It’s a win-win for the UFC, and that’s what Dana White wants. He knows that Borrachinha vs. Whittaker will sell well, and he knows how much the title unification bout will sell, too.”