An eagerly anticipated middleweight showdown between Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa has now been officially scrapped from the upcoming UFC 284 event in Perth, Australia on February 11th.
It’s been known for a few weeks that Costa was threatening not to take the fight due to being dissatisfied with the deal the UFC was offering for a new contract, and while some wondered whether the 31-year-old was just bluffing, it would appear that no progress has been made since then and the fight has indeed now been cancelled.
“No troll job,” ESPN’s Brett Okamoto wrote on Twitter last night. “Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker will NOT fight at UFC 284 in February, per sources.”
“Great fights is going down due to lack of negotiation skills,” Costa confirmed on Twitter. “They should stop being petty.
“I think they’re taking it the wrong way, making fighters unhappy with deals isn’t very smart. It’s not only ME, I remember: [Francis Ngannou], [Sean] O’Malley, Mark Hunt, etc.”
The news has left Costa’s intended opponent Whittaker disappointed as he’d been hoping to fight close to home in Australia, but now appears likely to be shifted to a different event a month or two later.
“It’s very upsetting to say [the rumors] are true,” Whittaker said on social media. “The fight with Costa has fallen apart. UFC did everything in their power to get him to the fight. They gave him the new contract, from what I understand, to take the fight, and he still didn’t take the fight. The Perth fight is not happening. They’re looking to reschedule me March/April.”
With Whittaker vs. Costa off the card, UFC 284 still proceeds with two title fights, including the headlining superfight showdown between newly crowned lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and dominant featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski, while Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett fight for the interim 145lb title in the co-main event.