Paulo Costa should be facing Robert Whittaker for the interim middleweight title.
That’s according to Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail who believes it’s the only fight to make given the current state of the middleweight division.
Costa, of course, most recently lost to current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya via second-round TKO at UFC 253 in September. Adesanya was expected to defend his title against Jared Cannonier next only for the latter to end up suffering a unanimous decision defeat to Whittaker at UFC 254 in October.
UFC president Dana White would then give “The Last Stylebender” the green light to move up to light heavyweight and challenge Jan Blachowicz for the title with the fight seemingly in the works for UFC 259 in March.
That leaves the middleweight division stagnant for the time being and Ismail believes an interim title fight should be made in the process.
“This fight has been discussed ever since they first announced that Adesanya would fight the 205-pound champion Blachowicz,” Ismail told 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.”
Costa, Whittaker The Only Real Candidates
Although Costa only just lost to Adesanya, that was his only professional defeat while he is still the No. 2-ranked middleweight.
Whittaker, meanwhile, is the former champion who is currently ranked No. 1 in addition enjoying a two-fight winning streak since losing his title to Adesanya in 2019.
That is why it’s the only fight to make for Ismail as he believes it will also sell well. And if Costa goes on to win, a rematch with Adesanya will do even better.
“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.”
While a Whittaker vs. Costa fight is likely to be made, it remains to be seen if an interim title will be on the line — especially given Adesanya’s activity.