Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa are currently ranked No.1 and No. 2 in the official UFC middleweight rankings and it appears the top contenders are set to clash in the main event of the UFC’s April 17 event.
Sherdog was first to report the news saying the two were targeted to fight one another. ESPN then followed up on the report and said the UFC is finalizing the fight.
Whittaker (22-5) lost his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in October 2019 and following the fight he took some time off to regroup and clear his mind. Whatever he did appears to be paying off as Whittaker fought twice in the second half of 2020 and won both of his fights against Darren Till and Jared Cannoniner. Both wins were by unanimous decision.
After Whittaker’s win over Cannonier, many thought “The Reaper” was on his way to rematch Adesanya, but the UFC had other plans as Adesanya will be moving up to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in hopes of becoming a double champion.
Costa (13-1) came through the rankings quickly and earned a title fight at UFC 253 in September. That fight marked the first time Costa lost in his career as Adesanya chopped away at Costa’s leg’s before finishing him in the second-round.
Once the news broke that Adesanya was going to fight Blachowicz, Costa’s manager was asking for Whittaker and Costa to fight for an interim middleweight championship. Only half of his request came to fruition as their main event fight on April 17 will not be for the interim title.
As of right now the only other fight scheduled for the event is Bartlosz Fabinski vs. Gerald Meerschaert.