Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa is no longer on the cards for UFC 284 in Perth.
Despite the fight being announced, the boisterous Costa repeatedly stated that he never formally committed to the bout against the former interim middleweight champion. Costa took to social media to apologize to Whittaker, pointing the blame at UFC brass for claiming the fight was finalized without Costa signing off on it.
As far back as October, Costa downplayed the news as he was engaged in contract negotiations with the UFC. Costa’s fight with Whittaker would be the last fight on his existing contract, and he has disclosed he isn’t too concerned about remaining with the UFC for future fights.
“It’s very upsetting to say they’re true,” Whittaker said in response to the cancellation. Whittaker continued, saying “They gave him the new contract, from what I understand, to take the fight and he didn’t take the fight.”
The former interim champion will not appear on the card at all. Whittaker may appear in March or April instead. Previously, Whittaker downplayed Costa’s claims of the fight not going off but now finds himself without a fight until the Spring.
Costa’s contract at the heart of the matter
“Great fights is going down due to lack of negotiation skills, they should stop being petty,” Costa tweeted ahead of confirmation of the canceled fight. The Brazilian bruiser previously alluded to his contract being up after his UFC 276 win over Luke Rockhold, but that wasn’t the case, and was engaged in active negotiations when the fight with Whittaker was announced.
Costa mentioned that he is open to other opportunities including transitioning to boxing and focusing on shows in Brazil.
Without a new contract to his liking, Costa told everyone who would listen to him that he was unlikely to fight Whittaker. Being that Costa isn’t the most truthful of fighters, it’s reasonable to doubt his claims as Whittaker did.
This puts the UFC in an odd situation as this isn’t the only fight off the card. A lightweight fight between Jamie Mullarkey vs. Nasrat Haqparast has also been pulled from the card.
Whittaker vs. Costa could happen if Costa renews his contract with the UFC, but for now, this big middleweight fight is off the table.