Paulo Costa only has one fight left on his current UFC deal and last month it appeared he was all-set to fight former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 284 in Australia in January, but now he’s claimed that’s not actually the case.
“Hey guys I’m here again to say the obvious,” Costa wrote on Twitter. “I don’t have a deal to fight in Perth A lot of fans are sending their regards for this fight, but ITS NOT FOR REAL , anyway see u soon in MMA or boxing,”
In an interview with AGFight, Costa even suggested that in addition to the fight with Whittaker still hanging in the balance, he’s actually also looking into whether he can wait until his contract expires rather than compete again in an apparent move to put pressure on the UFC to offer him a better deal.
“I haven’t renewed with the UFC. I had a talk with Hunter. He was supposed to get back to me. I asked him about a figure and he was supposed to give me an answer about it. I haven’t gotten an answer yet. Anything is possible. I have one fight left and I’m not very sure. I’ve got some lawyers looking at the contract, seeing how it works, because it can also be terminated over time. Maybe I don’t even need to fight to finish my contract.
“We need to know how to take care of our stuff and the UFC contract is business. I need to be aware of how it works so I don’t make a mistake, I need to make the most out of it. I have one fight left or the time clause. I believe that’s it, but I’m still talking to my lawyers. I’d really like if this Whittaker fight could happen, but it’s up to the UFC. There’s no contract yet, there’s nothing. I wish there was a contract up to par to the level of this fight.”
Costa’s situation is reminiscent of Francis Ngannou, who has also opted to try and sit out until his contract expires, but he has more leverage since he’s the current UFC champion.
On the other hand, though Costa is undoubtedly a big name in the middleweight division, he hasn’t done much to endear himself to the UFC brass in recent times, including having lost by TKO to Israel Adesanya in an unusually lackluster title challenge and then suffered a further defeat against Marvin Vettori while also having major weight-cutting issues.
Costa has since got back on track with a decision win over Luke Rockhold, though given the major cardio issues and ring-rust that the former champ showed that night, Costa came under some criticism for not having won more emphatically, so it didn’t as much as he might have hoped to enhance his power at the bargaining table.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the UFC takes heed of his issues or whether they’ll now look for an alternative replacement to fight Whittaker on a UFC 284 card that already has two big fights secured for the top of the bill, with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev fighting featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, while Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett fight for the interim featherweight title in the co-main event.