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Paulo Costa’s manager calls for interim Middleweight title fight

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With Israel Adesanya busy in other divisions, Paulo Costa’s manager wants to see his client battle Robert Whittaker for the interim 185-pound belt.

UFC 253 Adesanya v Costa Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

We’re already salivating over the “Champion vs. Champion” fight at UFC 259 between 185-pound roost ruler, Israel Adesanya, and Light Heavyweight kingpin, Jan Blachowicz. However, it does kind of suck that the bout is going to throw the Middleweight division into a holding pattern while “Last Stylebender” fights at 205 pounds and potentially challenges Jon Jones at Heavyweight after that.

Fortunately, Adesanya was also good enough to clean out many of the top contenders at 185 pounds before departing. One could argue it’s not the worst thing in the world for the division to spend six months duking it out to re-establish a proper line of challengers for the belt.

Or ... we could go ahead and throw the guy the champ just embarrassed into an interim title fight? That’s the suggestion from Paulo Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, who wants to see his boy Costa vs. Robert Whittaker for the interim division title.

“This fight has been discussed ever since they first announced that Adesanya would fight the 205-pound champion Blachowicz,” Ismail told MMA Fighting. “Dana White said he wants this fight, that he would make this fight happen, and Whittaker said he would only fight for the belt next. We’re just waiting for Dana White to book this fight.

“This is the best fight for 185, the No. 1 against the No. 2,” Ismail continued. “The winner … Borrachinha will win, and with that win, imagine how many pay-per-views a rematch with Adesanya would do. It’s a business. It’s the best pay-per-view possible because Borrachinha and Adesanya really hate each other, but we can’t leave the division on hold. That’s why we have to make this for the interim belt. It’s a win-win for the UFC, and that’s what Dana White wants. He knows that Borrachinha vs. Whittaker will sell well, and he knows how much the title unification bout will sell, too.”

We have our doubts that “Costa vs. Adesanya 2” would sell as well as Wallid believes, given the humping “Borrachinha” received in their first meeting. The smart thing to do would be stop pretending that didn’t happen and get Costa back in the cage and on a win streak. Against Whittaker, against Marvin Vettori, against anyone really.

But, not for the title, interim or otherwise, since Costa is coming off a bad loss.

There’s still too many unknowns regarding Adesanya’s move up to pull the trigger on an interim title. He’s not putting on extra weight to fight at 205 pounds, so there’s a good chance he’ll come back to 185 after his bout with Blachowicz in March to defend, should there be anyone interesting to defend against. That leaves the ball squarely in the court of the contenders. Whoever rises up and creates demands with their fists in the cage will earn a shot.

It’s certainly not going to be manifested via managerial suggestion.