Paulo Costa is moving on from his scheduled UFC 291 bout with Ikram Aliskerov, and Roman Doldize is set to replace him.
With UFC 291 12 days away, Costa has pulled out with rumors being that he will fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi. Costa vs. Chimaev has been on the UFC’s radar for a while, but Costa’s contract negotiations put a damper on the rivalry bout. Now, Costa is out of a peculiar fight, and the card is no less worse for wear with Dolidze coming in.
Costa recently signed a massive contract extension, and many thought a clash with Chimaev or Sean Strickland would soon follow. The announcement of Aliskerov as an opponent raised plenty of eyebrows with the Sambo specialist just making his UFC debut last May against Phil Hawes.
With Costa being leveraged as a major player at middleweight, he’d be wasted in a fight of this capacity on an already stacked card.
Dolidze is coming off a loss to Marvin Vettori, snapping a four-fight win streak in the process. He’s a better opponent for Aliskerov, and that fight should still be a banger considering their aggressive striking styles.
Paulo Costa last fought in November 2022
The last time Costa took to the ring, he was in a bloody brawl with Luke Rockhold, earning a unanimous decision win. Costa underwent surgery on his hand, then entered a contentious contract negotiation with the UFC.
The promotion prematurely announced a fight between Costa and Robert Whittaker last February. Costa immediately announced there was no fight as his contract had lapsed. The Whittaker fight would be canceled, and Costa would shortly announce that he resigned from the UFC.
If he does end up fighting Chimaev in October, that is 11 months of rust he’ll have when facing one of the promotion’s rising stars. Either way, the UFC is wise to pull Costa off UFC 291 for the Abu Dhabi card.
With Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje II and Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira co-headlining the card, Costa would be wasted as an undercard filler against a fighter just fresh off their UFC debut.