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Paulo Costa ill, unable to fight Robert Whittaker at April 17 UFC event

Paulo Costa (pictured) won't fight former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in April.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC needs a new headliner for its upcoming event on April 17 after Paulo Costa has decided to withdraw from a middleweight clash with Robert Whittaker, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told MMA Fighting.

Costa is dealing with a severe flu and can’t fully prepare for the pivotal fight, according to those people. It’s still unclear if the promotion will move the matchup to a new date or find a new opponent for ex-champion Whittaker. One option currently on the table is rescheduling the match for UFC cards on May 1 or May 8.

Ag. Fight first reported the bout was in jeopardy on Monday night.

Costa (13-1) is coming off a one-sided defeat to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in September 2020, suffering the first loss of his professional MMA career. “Borrachinha” was 5-0 inside the octagon going into UFC 253, including wins over Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall.

Whittaker (22-5) ascended to the top of the 185-pound class with key wins over the likes of Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero before losing the UFC belt to Adesanya in 2019. “The Reaper” has since bounced back with a pair or decision wins in 2020, defeating Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

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