The UFC middleweight double header for August is no more after a withdrawal and a date change were announced.
It was revealed last month that the UFC had paired up 185lbs contenders Derek Brunson and Darren Till for August 14th for a potential London card, while Paulo Costa and Jared Cannonier were set to meet the following week at a location to be announced.
However it has now been announced that neither of those fights will go ahead as planned.
With the global COVID-19 pandemic still in affect, it turns out it will be unlikely that the UFC can put together a card in London on August 14th this year.
Instead, the organisation is now targeting a card for September 4th in London, which has seen the Brunson vs Till fight moved to accommodate its main event status.
Currently UFC 266 is scheduled to take place on September 4th, with light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz set to defend his title against Glover Teixeira. According to ESPN though that pay-per-view card will be moved to later in the month in order to accommodate the London card, although neither are official yet.
It was also confirmed that Paulo Costa will no longer fight Jared Cannonier on August 21st, after the Brazilian withdrew from the bout.
Kelvin Gastelum will step in to replace him, making it two fights in a row that Gastelum has stepped in to replace Costa after he pulled out with plenty of notice.
Costa hasn’t fought since his UFC 253 knockout defeat to Israel Adesanya, but was scheduled to fight Robert Whittaker back in April. Costa withdrew from that fight citing ‘flu-like symptoms’, saying he had lingering effects from COVID-19. Gastelum stepped in to replace him in that one, but was dominated by Whittaker in a five-round decision defeat.
This time there is no injury, but instead Costa says he never signed a contract to fight Cannonier and isn’t happy with the pay that fighters receive and thus won’t be fighting.
Cannonier’s last fight was also against Whittaker, with ‘The Reaper’ dominating him at UFC 254 to a three-round decision win to claim himself dibs in the title conversation. Whittaker will fight the winner of Adesanya and Vettori 2, who meet at UFC 263 this weekend.
Whittaker actually turned that fight down following his win over Gasteulm, with scheduling conflicts making it too hard to turn around and get a proper camp in for the desired date.
Cannonier is currently ranked at number four in the division, while Gastelum is ranked at number nine. A win for either man puts them into contention for a title shot in the near future, while a loss could plummet them further away from a shot than ever before.
Till and Brunson’s fight looks likely to be the next man to get a shot after Whittaker, with Adesanya previously name-checking Till as a future opponent while Brunson has previously been beaten by the champion but is currently riding a four-fight win streak after beating Kevin Holland in March.