Rob Whittaker’s quest to return to middleweight glory has received a massive boost, with confirmation he’ll headline Australia’s first UFC event since 2019.
Rob Whittaker’s quest to return to middleweight glory has received a major boost, with confirmation he will fight Brazilian Paulo Costa at UFC 284 in Perth.
The crucial fight is the first confirmed bout for the UFC’s long-awaited return event in Australia, scheduled for February 12 next year at the RAC Arena.
News Corp understands the bout will be the co-main event on the card, alongside Australia’s pound-for-pound king Alex Volkanovski’s bout against an undetermined opponent.Rob Whittaker will take on Brazilian Paulo Costa when the UFC returns to Australia in February. Picture: Richard Dobson
The card could also feature Aussies Tai Tuivasa, Jack Della Maddalena and Tyson Pedro in a stacked show, the first UFC event here since 2019.
“Whittaker versus Costa is an absolute barn burner and a fantastic first addition to UFC 284, a match-up with ‘Fight of the Night’ potential and will be hugely anticipated by our fans,” the UFC’s vice-president Australia and New Zealand, Peter Kloczko, said.
“Currently the number one contender at middleweight, Whittaker was Australia’s first ever UFC champion and remains one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in Australia.
“We are thrilled to have him compete on home soil and against such an exciting opponent.”
Whittaker bounced back from his second title fight loss to champion Israel Adesanya in Houston in February to defeat top contender Marvin Vettori last month in Paris.
Vettori and Adesanya are the only two men to have defeated Costa, who won his previous fight against Luke Rockhold in August.A win over Costa would put Whittaker back in contention for another title fight against Israel Adesanya. Picture: Getty Images.
While there has been constant speculation that Whittaker may move up to light-heavyweight, or even switch to boxing, he confirmed prior to his unanimous decision over Vettori that his mid-term future is at 185 pounds.
“I’m doing really well at middleweight, I’d be wrapping up my career there [at light-heavyweight], I wouldn’t be coming back down,” Whittaker said.
“So it’ll probably be in the next couple of years if – if – I do it.
“It’s still up in the air, I’d have to speak to everybody.
“I would love to do box, and to get in there, I’m in the fight business and I’m a big fan of boxing as well.Whittake says he’s still undecided about potentially moving up to light-heavyweight in the future. Picture: Richard Dobson
“If I can get paid for something I like doing, mate, sign me up.
“I’ve never picked any fights and I’m not about to start, preferably someone who shouldn’t be in there so it’s an easy payday.”
Defeating Costa would put him in line for a third shot at Adesanya, who took the middleweight title from Whittaker and defended it five times, in between an unsuccessful stint to claim the light-heavyweight title from Jan Blachowicz.
But Costa is a dangerous opponent, with 11 knockouts in 14 wins.
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Originally published as UFC 284: Rob Whittaker to face Paulo Costa for UFC’s Australia return in Perth