Paulo Costa expects to finalize a new UFC deal this week and said a fight with Khamzat Chimaev is targeted for October in Abu Dhabi.
The middleweight booking, revealed earlier this month by Chael Sonnen on The MMA Hour, is a matchup Costa eagerly looks forward to. But its timing, at the event expected to be UFC 294, is not necessarily what he wants.
“I’m bothering the UFC to schedule a fight before, like June,” Costa said on Monday’s edition of the show. “I think because they have some agreement [with the] Dubai government, so they need to push big fights for there.”
Chimaev recently called Costa a “coward” on Twitter and indicated the Brazilian was dodging a matchup. Costa reacted with confusion at the message.
“I like [the Chimaev fight],” he said. “I think it’s a good match up. I think has a lot of hype behind this fight; the people want to see that fight. The people always asking me [about] that fight.”
Still, staying active was a priority for “Borrachinha” with a win this past August over Luke Rockhold marking his most recent trip to the octagon. With one bout remaining on his current deal, Costa said he volunteered for a short-notice light heavyweight fight against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 288. But there was a delay, he said, when the UFC stipulated that he stay at 205 pounds because of Blachowicz’s high ranking in the division.
Costa countered that he wanted to go back to middleweight to face Chimaev in October – and then rematch champ Israel Adesanya, who in 2020 knocked him out in a title fight.
“So this takes longer, like three days of back and forth, negotiating that one, and then the UFC finally accepted,” Costa said. “They said, ‘Oh, it’s OK, you can fight just at 205 right now [against] Jan, and even if you beat him, you can come back and fight [in] October at middleweight.’ So then the UFC accepted that, and I went [on] to Twitter, and I posted, ‘OK guys, the fight is on, me and the UFC reach the terms, and I think Jan accepted as well.’ So we’re supposed to fight May 6.
“So then, Sunday, surprisingly, Jan declined the fight. He said, ‘No, I don’t want it anymore. I accepted the fight three days ago, but Paulo [hasn’t accepted], so I declined. I didn’t expect that from Jan, but this is a short-notice. So maybe he was not in good shape, maybe he was not training, or even an injury.”
Blachowicz on Twitter accused Costa of ducking him, which brought a gruff response from Costa.
“Jan, he’s lying,” Costa said. “I never turned out and fight. Actually, in fact, he is who turned out the fight. I have always been negotiating that fight. For three or four days, I was negotiating with the UFC. I never pulled out the fight. I was actually very happy with that fight.”
“I [told the UFC], ‘Whoa that’s a very good fight,” he added. “I like that matchup. I like the way that Jan fights as well. He fought some guys who came up from middleweight division, like [Luke] Rockhold and ‘Jacare’ [Souza] and Adesanya, and he beat out these guys. So it’s a big opportunity.
“So I love the idea for three reasons: He beat out these guys already; I don’t need to cut a lot of weight to make 205, because I’ve always been training and preparing for [it]; and the third one is a good opportunity to make a lot of money, because of the short notice.”
Now, Costa hopes to book another fight that will run out his current deal and start a new UFC contract that will give him a significant bump in pay. The sooner he can finish that, the sooner he can get to Chimaev.
“We are very close right now, very close,” Costa said. “But not 100 percent yet. We have agreed to most of the terms, and I almost fought Jan [on] May 6th. Unfortunately, that fight will not happen, I think. So we are very close to finish the deal and the details and finish the deal.”