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With no contract to fight Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa calls UFC 284 fight ‘fake news’

Paulo Costa still doesn’t have a contract to fight Robert Whittaker at UFC 284, and he’s getting upset about the fight being promoted as if it’s a done deal.

UFC 278 Ceremonial Weigh-in Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view (PPV) machine returns in 2023 with back-to-back international events: UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. The Perth card features a very interesting Middleweight contenders match between Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa, but according to “‘Borrachinha,” the fight may not happen.

For weeks “Borrachinha” has been claiming he never signed a contract to fight, and now he’s starting to get annoyed as UFC continues to advertise the bout for its return “Down Under.”

“I’m Asking UFC to show my signs in this non-existent contract lol,” Costa wrote on his Twitter account. “That’s pure fakenews.”

It can be hard to know exactly what’s really going on through Costa’s social media account because the Brazilian fighter uses it to troll and joke around endlessly. Ginning up some story about the fight being “fake” is exactly the kind of strange behavior he’s all about these days.

But, in a Nov. 2022 interview with Submission Radio, Costa expanded on the Whittaker fight situation.

“I love to make that fight. It’s one of my favorite fights to make, of course,” he said. “But I don’t have any deal to do this fight. This is the bad part. I want to do this fight, but I don’t have a deal. UFC didn’t send me nothing. No contract, no offer yet. It’s a weird situation. I dunno what’s going on with the UFC. Because you guys know, the UFC used to publish some fights when the fight is close, when the deal is on. But it’s not in this case. They asked me about Robert, if I should fight him. I said, yes, of course, it’ll be a pleasure to fight him. But they didn’t send any offer to fight him yet.”

So Costa vs. Whittaker is only verbally agreed to, which would normally be good enough to stop people from worrying. However, Costa vs. Whittaker also happens to be the last fight on Costa’s contract, which he signed back in 2017. Costa has made it clear that he wants UFC to offer him a new big-money contract if it wants him to take the final fight on his deal, otherwise he’ll just wait for the five-year sunset clause to kick in and enter free agency that way.

“I have spoken with Hunter [Campbell, UFC CBO] some weeks ago – I think one week or two weeks ago – about my terms, my contract, not to fight Whittaker yet, but just cause I have one fight more to fight, to compete in UFC,” Costa said. “And we just agreed my payment was so low. I have got this same payment since 2017. So, it’s crazy. And I have fought the top five guys and I get money as a beginner. So, he agreed. He said, yeah, it’s totally out of date, we need to update this.

“But, after that, they announced that fight against Robert,” he continued. “But, I didn’t see any contract in my mail, on my table. I have nothing yet. I’m just waiting for Hunter to make his offer. Because he said, okay, we’ll make another offer and you see what you think about it. You understand? I cannot still fight for free, bro. The time for fighting for free has gone. I love MMA, but I cannot just fight for the love. I have bills to pay.”

According to Costa, he made just $35,000 to fight Marvin Vettori in Oct. 2021 and “a little bit more” when he beat Luke Rockhold at UFC 278 in August.

After watching UFC 282 go from a pretty great looking end-of-year event to a mishmash of replacement fights, it’s a bit scary looking forward to UFC 284 and wondering whether happenstance and contractual issues will also wreak havoc on that card as well.

Let’s hope UFC sorts out an agreement with Costa, but it could be that he’s ready to test free agency unless it adds two more zeros to his fight purse.

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