UFC ON ESPN 26 has a new headliner after Paul Costa opted to pull out of his fight with Jared Cannonier, leaving Kelvin Gastelum to step into his place instead.
Interestingly, it doesn’t appear to have been an injury or a ailment that led to Costa’s withdrawal, but rather a protest at the UFC’s fighter payouts, which comes in the same week that Jake Paul publicly criticized the promotion for not paying fighters more money.
“Just to be clear,” Costa wrote on Twitter. “I never signed or locked up that contract. Why ufc announced this fight if didn’t signed? My question too
“UFC needs to pay me as main fighter to have fighting in main events. Youtubers are showing all disgrace on this business.”
While everyone would like to see fighters get paid more, you have to question whether it is really in Costa’s best interests to be pushing for it in this manner.
After all, though Costa managed to amass a perfect 13-0 record, including a five-fight winning streak in the UFC, his stock took a big hit last year when he looked out-of-sorts in a one-sided TKO loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Costa was then due to fight Robert Whittaker in April, but pulled out of the fight after suffering lingering symptoms of Covid-19.
Coincidentally, that led to Gastelum taking that fight instead, which he lost by unanimous decision, and now it’s he again who benefits by taking Costa’s headlining spot as he looks to get back to winning ways.
As for Cannonier, he is also coming off a loss on the scorecards against Whittaker, which had brought an end to a three-fight unbeaten run since dropping down to 185lbs.