The UFC is working on a superfight between its middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz for March 6, and Paulo Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail has an idea for the 185-pound class in the meantime.
While Adesanya works on gaining an extra 20 pounds to challenge Blachowicz at UFC 259, Ismail believes that the company should create an interim title at middleweight, pairing up “The Reaper” and “Borrachinha” against one another.
“This fight has been discussed ever since they first announced that Adesanya would fight the 205-pound champion Blachowicz,” Ismail said in an interview with 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.”
Whittaker and Costa have only lost once as middleweights in MMA, both by second-round knockout to “The Last Stylebender.” Whittaker lost his crown to the then-interim titleholder in October 2019, and has since bounced back with decisions over Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. Costa recently fell to Adesanya in Abu Dhabi, snapping a 5-0 run in the UFC.
Costa, 29, holds UFC wins over the likes of Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall and Johny Hendricks. Whittaker, who turned 30 in December, has also defeated Romero and Hall in the octagon, handing losses to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson in his run to the top of the division.
“This is the best fight for 185, the No. 1 against the No. 2,” Ismail said. “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.”