Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker confirmed on Tuesday that his blockbuster fight with Paulo Costa, initially scheduled for UFC 284 in Perth, is off.
Delivering the unfortunate news via social media on his birthday, Whittaker said that the UFC had “tried everything in their power” to get the fight to happen but that it has “fallen apart”.
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“G’day everyone. I’m sure you’ve seen the media and all the rumours going around right now about the Perth card and it’s very upsetting to say they’re true,” Whittaker said.
“The fight with Costa has fallen apart. The UFC tried 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 it in March [or] April.”
Costa has consistently maintained since the fight was first announced that no contract had been signed, calling it “fake news” last week and criticising the UFC for promoting it.
That continued on Tuesday morning when Costa once again tweeted that the fight had not been agreed to in response to in response to Whittaker calling him a “notorious troll”.
“Guys sending me this, I feel sad for Robert because the UFC didn’t tell him the truth lol, you don’t deserve this. Bro, sorry I won’t fight you in Perth UFC posting this (Robert vs Costa) just to sell tickets, you need to realize that.They didn’t pay me, I’m out! I’m not joking,” he tweeted.
ESPN first reported on Tuesday that the fight was off the UFC 284 card, claiming that Costa and the UFC had discussed a new contract but not agreed to anything yet.
“This is very upsetting, this is very upsetting,” Whittaker added of the news.
“I’m sorry to all the friends, fans and family that are heading over there to watch me do work. It’s out of my hands. I’m upset.
“I was prepared to train through Christmas, to train through New Year’s, to put in the work. I’m already so deep into my camp, everyone knows I train, my camps are quite long. I’m already so deep into my camp and work and I wanted to take the family out, I want to go on holiday after the fight and buy the kids some toys and earn some money, pay the rent but all that has been put on the backburner and pushed back.
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“It’s upsetting for me. It’s upsetting for me, it’s upsetting for you. I’m just going to try my hardest front of me in that first quarter, I’m going to get in there and do my work.”
There will still be plenty of other Australian fighters in action at UFC 284, headlined by featherweight and pound-for-pound king Alexander Volkanovski who takes on lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in the main event.
As for who Whittaker could fight should he instead opt to take on someone else at Perth, fellow lightweight contender Jared Cannonier put his hand up, fresh off a win over Sean Strickland.
“For me, with Costa and Whittaker, their match in limbo, I’m more than happy to step in,” Cannonier told MMA on SiriusXM.
With Whittaker and Israel Adesanya in front of Cannonier when it comes to getting a shot at title-holder Alex Pereira, it is a fight that would make sense for him.
Whether it would excite Whittaker, or the UFC for that matter, remains to be seen.