For several weeks, Costa has publicly said he hadn’t actually agreed to the matchup or the date for the fight as he continued negotiations with the UFC on a new contract. The one-time title challenger is reportedly on the final fight of his current deal and is seeking a new contract before signing onto his next fight.
Costa commented on the fight cancellation after ESPN initially reported the news.
“Great fights is going down due to lack of negotiation skills,” Costa wrote on Twitter. “They should stop being petty.
“I think they’re taking it the wrong way, making fighters unhappy with deals isn’t very smart. It’s not only ME, I remember: [Francis Ngannou], [Sean] O’Malley, Mark Hunt, etc.”
I think they’re taking it the wrong way, making fighters unhappy with deals isn’t very smart. It’s not only ME, I remember: Nagnnu , OMalley , Mark hunt ect
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) December 19, 2022
It’s not clear at this time how far apart Costa and the UFC are on a new deal, but the gap between the fighter and the promotion is wide enough that the matchup with Whittaker could not be finalized.
Whittaker also commented on the cancellation as he shared the unfortunate news on social media.
“It’s very upsetting to say [the rumors] are true,” Whittaker said. “The fight with Costa has fallen apart. UFC did everything in their power to get him to the fight. They gave him the new contract, from what I understand, to take the fight, and he still didn’t take the fight. The Perth fight is not happening. They’re looking to reschedule me March/April.”
It’s a tough turn of events for Whittaker as UFC 284 was set to serve as his first fight in his home country since he lost the UFC middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in 2019. There’s no word yet on a new opponent, but it appears for now that Whittaker will no longer compete in Australia.