UFC targets Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa for April 17 main event

Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa have agreed to fight.

An April 17 matchup between former middleweight champion Whittaker (22-5 MMA, 13-3 UFC) and former title challenger Costa (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), is in the works. The promotion hasn’t yet publicly announced a location or venue for the bout, which would serve as the main event.

Sherdog was the first to report the targeted booking Monday, then UFC promotional partner ESPN reported the fight as done. Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed both sides have been contacted about the fight, but it hasn’t been finalized nor have contracts been issued.

Whittaker, 30, lost the UFC middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in October 2019, but turned his momentum around in 2020. Fighting twice in the calendar year, Whittaker defeated Darren Till and Jared Cannonier – both by unanimous decision.

Following his October victory over Cannonier, all signs pointed toward Whittaker being next in line for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. However, Whittaker’s post-fight comments steered Dana White in a different direction and Adesanya was paired up with UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz instead.

Costa, 29, has not competed since an unsuccessful title challenge in October. At UFC 253, Costa was finished via strikes by Adesanya in Round 2. The finish, and subsequent mocking celebration by Adesanya, seemed to rub Costa the wrong way. Shortly after the fight, Costa vowed to storm back and defeat Adesanya.

With the addition, the April 17 UFC Fight Night lineup includes:

  • Paulo Costa vs. Robert Whittaker
  • Bartosz Fabinski vs. Gerald Meerschaert

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