Tag Archives: Paulo Costa

UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Utah for a huge welterweight showdown as Kamaru Usman defenders his 170-pound crown against Leon Edwards in the main event.

The two fight for a second time, with neither fighter suffering defeat since the first showing back in 2015 and are supported by an undercard including Paulo Costa, Luke Rockhold, Jose Aldo, Merab Dvalishvili, Alexandr Romanov, Miranda Maverick and more.

Last time out at UFC San Diego we went 8/13 with three perfect picks to move to 698/1082 (64.51%) with 295 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that now and after starting with the early prelims, here are the rest of our prelims picks.


Tyson Pedro (8-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (7-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

If anyone can explain why this happening at all, never mind on the main card of a pay-per-view, then they’re better than me. Pedro returned from over three years out through injury with a first-round KO of Ike Villanueva back in April, while Hunsucker has lost three of his last four and got starched in under two minutes by both Tai Tuivasa (UFC Vegas 22) and Justin Tafa in his most recent fight.

Pedro looked great on his return and showed tremendous cardio, as well as explosive power with his kicks and hands to earn a knockout. Hunsucker is a guy who likes to stand in the middle and trade strikes, but doesn’t have the chin to stand there with the UFC calibre of fighter, never mind Pedro.

This is a weird fight because they’re galaxies apart in terms of ability, but also because of it’s placement on the card. Pedro blasts him with low kicks and combinations down the pipe to earn another knockout win and put an end to Hunsucker’s UFC run.
PICK – Tyson Pedro via Knockout, Round 1

Wu Yanan (12-5) vs Lucie Pudilova (13-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun woman’s bantamweight scrap that got shifted to the main card on late notice. Yanan has lost her last three in a row, dropping decisions to Mizuki Inoue, Joselyne Edwards and Mayra Bueno Silva. Pudilova alternatively has won her last two in a row and makes her second UFC debut in this one.

Yanan is a striker with good movement who looks to stick and move throughout the fight, while Pudilova is a more powerful striker who likes to step forward and apply pressure on her opponent. Yanan likes to try and set up strikes by changing direction, but her distinct lack of power and the fact she gets hit quite a lot certainly doesn’t help.

Pudilova isn’t the most powerful either but she is definitely more powerful than Yanan. She’s the slightly bigger woman of the two and could use that to wear on Yanan throughout, but expect her to land the more noticeable strikes with a bit more power to claim a win on the scorecards on her return to the octagon.
PICK – Lucie Pudilova via Decision

Jose Aldo (31-7) vs Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An incredible fight in the bantamweight division up next. Featherweight GOAT and title contender Jose Aldo has won his last three in a row with decisions against Marlon Vera (UFC Vegas 17), Pedro Munhoz (UFC 265) and most recently Rob Font (UFC Vegas 44). Merab is on a seven-fight win streak, including a stunning comeback win against Marlon Moraes at UFC 266 most recently.

Aldo is one of the very best strikers in UFC history, with terrific boxing and terrifying low kicks but he also has some of the best takedown defence ever and a elite ground game that he rarely ever has to use. Merab on the other hand is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the UFC, with the most takedowns in bantamweight division history and a ridiculous cardio that means he can seemingly go for forever. That is arguably his biggest avenue to victory here, because we’ve seen Aldo tire out in the past later in fights.

On the feet Aldo has a clear and dominant advantage, but if he looks to wrestle in any way at any time then he faces getting absolutely smashed. Merab will almost certainly take the centre and shoot relentlessly for 15 minutes. His success on the first two attempts will say a lot, but he also must avoid being hit clean because we’ve already seen Moraes hurt him last time out too. This is a super hard fight to call, but I think the cardio and grappling of Merab will eventually take it’s toll on the 35-year-old Aldo and claim him a tight decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision



Paulo Costa (13-2) vs Luke Rockhold (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A crazy fight in the co-main event at this stage of their careers. Costa was an undefeated behemoth before suffering a KO defeat against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, before getting wrestled to death by Marvin Vettori in October after missing weight by 20lbs and watching the fight get moved up to light heavyweight in advance because of it. Rockhold has been knocked out cold in his last two fights by Yoel Romeo and Jan Blachowicz. This is his first fight in over three years.

Costa is a powerhouse who walks forward and blasts incredible combinations to the body and head while trying to take your head off, while also possessing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt – although we’ve never seen him use it in the Octagon. Rockhold is a tremendous kickboxer with great power too, and he arguably has some of the best top position work in the entire UFC as well as great jiu-jitsu himself. Both guys have a huge problem in this fight though.

Costa is obviously going to have issues making weight, and that’s a big problem. The Brazilian literally couldn’t do it last time out, but is looking to do it again here and if he does make it, there will be a question mark around how compromised he is. Rockhold’s is his glass jaw. It will be tested in this fight, without a doubt. Unfortunately for him, after three years out, I highly doubt it has improved. Costa walks him down and turns the lights out on his MMA career early doors, despite the likely difficult weight cut.
PICK – Paulo Costa via Knockout, Round 1

Kamaru Usman (20-1) vs Leon Edwards (19-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The two best welterweight fighters in the entire world go head to head for the welterweight title of the world. Usman has defended his title five times with knockout and decision wins over Jorge Masvidal (UFC 251 & UFC 261) and Colby Covington (UFC 268) each, as well as a knockout over Gilbert Burns too (UFC 258). Edwards is on a ten-fight unbeaten streak with a no contest against Belal Muhammad in a fight he was dominating being followed up with a dominant win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263.

Usman is probably the best wrestler in the UFC right now, but his striking game has elevated in recent years and seen him develop great power in his strikes too. Edwards is a brilliant striker with great accuracy, technical ability and speed, with a wrestling game that has improved ten-fold since defeat to Usman back in 2015. Both guys have improved tremendously and this is a really tough fight to call because both are so good in all disciplines.

But there is one thing that stands out, and that’s a Joe Rogan quote about wrestling, when he said that there’s only so much you can learn against someone who has a “lifetime” of it. That’s the situation Edwards finds himself in. Usman has fallen in love with his hands of late, and Edwards is more than good enough to make him pay for that. But Usman has the ability to dictate where this fight takes place, and if it’s going wrong I expect him to wrestle and control Edwards on the ground for long periods to claim a close decision and break the record for most consecutive wins in UFC history.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision

Fights to make in 2022 – Jiri Prochazka vs Paulo Costa

After the absolutely incredible fight year that was 2021, 2022 is promising to be bigger, better and badder than ever before in the UFC.

There will be title fights, shocking upsets, incredible wars and new rivalries created throughout the year, but there are some that already spilling over from this year.

With that, we’re going to name you ten fights that the UFC should make in 2022 at some point to give the fans the ultimate fight experience.



2021 was very different for these two fighters, but that could potentially put them both on a war path towards each other.

Jiri Prochazka’s only fight last year came in May against the former title challenger Dominick Reyes at UFC Vegas 25, where a spinning elbow knockout in the second round earned him an emphatic victory and a title shot in 2022 – as well as knockout of the year.

On the other hand, Paulo Costa’s only bout of the year came with plenty of controversy and ended in defeat against Marvin Vettori and now seemingly a new weight class for the new year.

Despite agreeing to fight at 185-pounds, the Brazilian basically refused to cut weight and forced the fight to be re-agreed for the light heavyweight division during fight week.

This led to Dana White claiming he will fight at 205-pounds going forward, which a defeat in that bout only confirmed.

But with his star power undeniable and the 205-pound division needing big names to power it through a damp patch, he’s only a couple of wins away from potentially getting a title shot.

With Prochazka getting the next fight against champion Glover Teixeira at some point, you can see exactly where their paths could cross and it would make for a stunning bout.

Prochazka and Costa are both machines, with sensational cardio ability and extraordinary knockout power in their hands.

Between them they have earned 35 knockout wins from 42 professional career victories and strike fear into their opponents with constant pressure and legitimate one shot, fight-ending power.

It would certainly be one of the most exciting fights stylistically that can be made in the division and while a few things would need to happen first, this is a fight I would love to see in 2022 and is very possible.

Make it happen, Uncle Dana!

Paulo Costa told to move to 205lbs after defeat to Marvin Vettori

After a week full of drama and surprises, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori delivered a brilliant main event at UFC Vegas 41.

The two were scheduled to face off in a middleweight main event bout in the Las Vegas Apex, only for Costa to reveal during fight week media obligations that he wouldn’t be able to make the weight.

Vettori and Costa then verbally agreed to a 195lbs catchweight bout, before the fight finally got moved again to 205lbs the day before weigh-ins.



With Vettori now a fan favourite for refusing to let the fight get scrapped and wanting a war with one of the best strikers in the UFC, the two met an entire weight class above their usual division.

What followed was a brilliant fight in which Vettori showed his incredible granite chin to take the power shots of a humongous Costa in the cage, while also showing his cardio is among the best in the world with a 25-minute performance in which he earned a unanimous 48-46 decision across the scorecards.

Following the fight, in which Costa didn’t disgrace himself by any means, ‘Borrachina’ revealed a bicep injury was the reason he was unable to cut weight during fight week and said he hoped to return to 185lbs for his next fight.

UFC president Dana White had other ideas though seemingly, stating that Costa would be competing at 205lbs going forward. Speaking in the post-fight press conference, White said;

“Yeah, we absolutely tell you where to fight when this happens. Yeah, he’s gonna have to fight at 205.

He’s a light heavyweight. I mean, you guys saw him tonight. He’s massive. And the thing that stood out the most for me: as big as he is, look at the cardio that he had tonight. That was a fuckin’ dog fight. That was a war between two guys who both really wanted to win.”

UFC Vegas 41: Costa vs Vettori – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again for UFC Vegas 41 this weekend as Paulo Costa takes on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division.

The Brazilian is looking to earn some respect back following his excuses and defeat to Israel Adesanya, while Vettori is looking to finally get that marquee name on his resume following his most recent defeat to… Israel Adesanya.

It’s not the most stacked card this week in name value, but there are some very fun fights on the card that we’ll look to predict.

Last week at UFC Vegas 40 we struggled at went 5/10 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 439/689 (63.72%) with 187 perfect picks (42.6%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims picks, we completed our prelim picks here and now move on to the main card.


Nicolae Negumereanu (10-1) vs Ike Villanueva (18-12) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A 205lbs stepping stone bout between a prospect and a veteran. Negumereanu returned from over two years out to earn a split decision win over Aleksa Camur at UFC Vegas 29, while Villanueva has lost three of his last four with a KO defeat to Marcin Prachnio last time out at UFC Vegas 30.

Villanueva is a decent boxer with good power, preferring a hook to a straight and looking to take someone’s head off. Negumereanu on the other hand is a powerful striker himself with good wrestling to dictate where the fight goes. He’s incredibly aggressive and physical, with a pretty decent gas tank too.

For Negumereanu the game plan should be simple; do what you do well, and you’ll win. If he uses his wrestling, his aggressive and avoids the big punches that Villanueva can threaten with, then this should be a relatively comfortable win for ‘Nick’.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Knockout, Round 2

Francisco Trinaldo (26-8) vs Dwight Grant (11-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting welterweight bout set up here between the 43-year-old Trinaldo and the man with the biggest back in MMA. Trinaldo was defeated by Muslim Salikhov at UFC Vegas 28 last time out, while Grant earned a split decision win at UFC 261 against Stefan Sekulic.

Trinaldo is a powerful striker with one of the best left hands in the division, with good boxing skills. Grant is a good mover with explosive power too, using his jab and length. He tends to throw his strikes just one at a time though and the lack of volume can often be an issue.

Grant doesn’t really set his knockout shots up well, but when he lands he hurts his opponents. Trinaldo tends to plant his feet and throw bombs too, so it comes down to durability. At 43-years-old, I think Trinaldo’s chin will likely give out first and Grant can grab a win.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Alex Caceres (18-12) vs Seungwoo Choi (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight clash between ‘Bruce Leeroy’ and ‘Sting. Caceres has won his last four-in-a-row with a big decision win over Kevin Croom last time out at UFC Vegas 20, while Choi has won his last three with a KO against Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 29 in his last outing.

Caceres is a really well-rounded fighter, with good striking and a great pace to go with some good grappling too. Choi will be opposite him with a pure boxing stance with great power in his hands and improved takedown defence over recent performances.

For Choi, he needs to avoid takedown attempts and use his physicality to slow Caceres down. He has solid knockout power, works the body well and is constantly improving. For Caceres he must use his speed to get in and out, but I see Choi doing enough to secure a big career win.
PICK – Seung Woo Choi via Decision



Jessica-Rose Clarke (10-6) vs Joselyne Edwards (10-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A decent bantamweight bout that seems way too high up on the card for me. Clarke returned from two straight defeats to earn a KO win over Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11, while Edwards won her UFC debut against Yanan Wu at UFC Fight Island 7 before a defeat to Karol Rosa a month later at UFC Vegas 18.

Clarke is a proper grinder. stepping forward with good takedowns and willing to take strikes to close the distance. Edwards on the other hand is a brilliant kickboxer with decent takedown defence but with a definite preference to keep the bout standing. For Clarke, she needs the bout on the ground and her pressure will likely get it there.

Edwards will need to show an improved takedown defence to keep it standing, where she has a clear edge and the ability and power to potentially score a finish. You’ll know after the first takedown attempt who wins this fight, but I think Clarke will just be able to scrape a victory.
PICK – Jessica-Rose Clarke via Decision

Grant Dawson (17-1) vs Ricky Glenn (22-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun co-main event in the lightweight division as the mightily impressive Dawson takes on Glenn. ‘KGD’ is on an eight-fight win streak with a KO victory against Leonardo Santos at UFC Vegas 22 last time out, while Glenn secured a first-round KO win over Joaquim Silva at UFC Vegas 29 in his last fight to get back to winning ways.

Dawson is a pressure fighter with some decent striking defence and a brilliant grappling background that has helped him secure 11 submission wins in his career. Glenn on the other side of the cage is a technical striker with good combinations and power, with a comfortable enough level on the ground where he’s not completely outmatched.

This is a great match up and stylistically Dawson has a big edge. His pressure and pace is relentless and when he gets a fight to the ground his striking and submissions are really good, while his cardio has held up a lot recently since his move to 155lbs. Glenn has stopping power, but the longer it goes the more I lean to Dawson.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Submission, Round 3

Paulo Costa (13-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A BANGER of a main event, which has been switched to a light heavyweight fight at 205lbs after Costa admitted he couldn’t make weight during fight week. Costa was unbeaten before he clashed with Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 and got KO’d and has had plenty of professionalism problems since. Vettori was on a five-fight win streak with wins over Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 and Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23, before a defeat to Adesanya himself at UFC 263.

Costa is an absolute powerhouse, with bricks for hands and a stellar physique as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Vettori on the other hand is a fighter who steps forward, closes the distance with dirty boxing before taking his opponents down and dominating with ground and pound. Costa will come forward and look to take Vettori’s head off with each and every strike, with a violent body kick in his arsenal.

Vettori though has the advantage with taking the fight to the ground and the weight issues that Costa has been having this week can’t be a good thing. Vettori’s chin has held up throughout his career, with zero defeats by finish and while Costa has other-worldly power that becomes useless if he’s on his back. I expect Vettori to press forward, clinch against the cage and work for takedowns to control on the ground for a decision win in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision

Paulo Costa admits he can’t make 186lbs limit; Marvin Vettori agrees to catchweight

Paulo Costa has admitted to media that he won’t be able to make the middleweight limit for his main event fight against Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 41 this weekend.

The two middleweight contenders are scheduled to fight each other in the main event on Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with both having been defeated by Israel Adesanya in their last outings.

But during media day interviews, Costa revealed that he currently weighs 211lbs and has no intentions of trying to weigh in at the agreed 186lbs limit for the bout.



Costa said that it is “not in his plans” to go down to 186lbs for the fight and he is hopeful that Vettori will be willing to meet him in a catchweight bout instead.

The Italian responded in a joint interview with ESPN and Costa stating that he would fight him at any weight, but blasted ‘Borrachina’ for being unprofessional.

The two fighters verbally agreed a 195lbs catchweight during the interview and the UFC have since confirmed that the plan is now for the fight to proceed at a catchweight, although they haven’t announced if it will be at 195lbs.

Costa has been plagued by unprofessional episodes since losing his title fight against Adesanya at UFC 253 last October.

After that bout he claimed that he drank a bottle of wine the night before the fight as he couldn’t sleep, and said he wasn’t sober when in the cage.

He then withdrew from a fight with Robert Whittaker with “flu like symptoms” despite the bout being almost a month away, and then pulled out of a fight with Jared Cannonier in August just days after it was announced after claiming he wasn’t being paid enough for the fight.

UFC Vegas 41: Marvin Vettori can silence his doubters with impressive showing

The UFC Vegas 41 main event is set to be an absolute banger when knockout artist Paulo Costa takes on the machine that is Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division.

It’ll be the first time that Vettori has stepped into the cage since his UFC 263 defeat to Israel Adesanya, a rematch he had been clamouring for since their first fight in 2018.

That first bout was a split decision victory for the current 185lbs champion, but Vettori had always protested that he won the fight.



After some injury problems and over a year out, Vettori returned the following year and racked up a five-fight win streak in order to claim a title shot earlier this year.

In each of those fights, the Italian was able to completely dominate and overwhelm each of his opponents. He secured only the second finish of his UFC tenure so far when he choked out Karl Roberson in their grudge match, but aside from that has completely controlled fights from start to finish.

His performance against Jack Hermansson was particularly impressive given he took the fight on short-notice, while he dealt with the explosive striking and power of Kevin Holland well too in the fight following that.

But against Adesanya in the rematch he failed to really show his tools. There was a lot of waiting, less of that overwhelming pressure that we’ve seen in the past and he wasn’t able to secure significant takedowns in the fight to get the fight where he wants it.

Marvin Vettori of Italy punches Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena...

The power and accuracy of Adesanya’s striking warranted a slight change in game plan for sure, but Vettori disappointed his fans and himself with his performance that night.

Now, against a powerhouse like Costa who has 11 knockouts from 13 career wins, Vettori can look to put it right.

He will look to get the fight down again as he always does and he will look to walk forward with pressure. Costa arguably has more knockout power than Adesanya, despite the ‘Last Stylebender’ owning a KO victory over the Brazilian, but he’s not as fast or accurate.

Marvin Vettori of Italy walks to the octagon during the UFC 263 middleweight championship match against Israel Adesanya at Gila River Arena on June...

This is a chance for Vettori to step into the cage and deliver a performance that fans can go back to in the future as a sign of why he is among the best middleweights in the world.

He is missing that stellar win on his resume right now, that career defining moment. The UFC Vegas 41 main event is the chance for him to earn that and put himself on the map as being in the title conversation for the foreseeable future.

Paulo Costa can earn some respect back with a win at UFC Vegas 41

Before we start off, it should be made abundantly clear that anybody who steps into the octagon or any type of combat sports arena deserves the utmost respect just for getting in there.

When those men and women get in there at any level, it’s a credit to their talent, determination and dedication that they are able to achieve any sort of success in there.

So when a fighter makes it at the very highest level, it’s even more incredible and deserves even more respect and praise.



That’s why getting beyond the rankings and getting into the title contention in the UFC is such a hugely coveted achievement in the world of mixed martial arts and combat sports.

Brazilian middleweight Paulo Costa is one of those who has been able to do that, competing currently with a record of 13-1 professionally and 5-1 in the UFC up to this point.

Of his 13 professional wins, Costa has earned 11 knockout victories and one submission win with the only time he has ever reached the judge’s scorecards being in a brilliant win over Yoel Romero at UFC 241.

That brilliant form and momentum earned him a title shot against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, after months of back and forth between the two on social media and even face-to-face.

Costa promised a violent, knockout finish against his nemesis and while the fight delivered, it was he who lay in the centre of the octagon unconscious at the end of the second round.

Israel Adesanya of Nigeria punches Paulo Costa of Brazil in their middleweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight...

There’s no shame in losing to Adesanya, who has proven himself to be one of the greatest strikers in UFC history throughout his tenure as champion at 185lbs. But the excuses and attitude of Costa following that fight are appalling.

The Brazilian first claimed he deserved an immediate rematch because he couldn’t sleep the night before and wasn’t feeling himself. He then admitted to drinking an entire bottle of wine to try and put himself to sleep and hinted that he may have been drunk while in the cage, hence his performance.

There were reports that he went into the fight injured after a tough camp too, before it became clear that he wouldn’t be getting another title shot any time soon.

He was then scheduled to face Robert Whittaker in a huge main event fight, with the winner likely able to claim themselves as the number one contender. Costa withdrew from the fight after testing positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Kelvin Gastelum, who Whittaker defeated handily.

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With the Aussie now firmly set as the number one contender, Costa was matched with Jared Cannonier in another attempt to keep him in the title picture.

The fights were announced by the UFC, only for Costa to withdraw just days later claiming he never signed a bout agreement and that he wanted more money to fight. The fight was scrapped and Cannonier fought Gastelum instead, winning also.

Throughout the process Costa has been vocal about fighting, but he only wants certain fights and has become the obnoxious big man who tries to bully his way to success.

He’ll finally get back in the cage against Marvin Vettori this weekend at UFC Vegas 41, Adesanya’s most recent victim in the middleweight title picture.

Paulo Costa of Brazil gestures to Israel Adesanya of Nigeria in their middleweight championship bout during UFC 253 inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight...

It’s the age old question of what happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object. But for Costa, it’s about showing that he’s worth all the talk he’s been spewing over the last 13 months.

A win for ‘Borrachina’ will set him among the elites of the division undoubtedly and set him up in a position to claim a title shot at some point in 2022.

A loss though and all the respect he had goes out of the window and he becomes just another talker with power in the UFC.

Kelvin Gastelum replaces Paulo Costa to face Jared Cannonier, Till/Brunson date changed

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.

UFC announces two middleweight main events for this summer

The UFC have announced two blockbuster middleweight main events for this summer as they begin to plan the third quarter of 2021.

With the division on the move next month when Israel Adesanya defends his title against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263, the company are looking towards the next contenders by pairing up four of the top six ranked fighters together.

It was revealed recently that the UFC are potentially looking at making a return to London in August, and it seems like that could be headlined by the returning Darren Till as he will fight Derek Brunson on August 14th pending medical clearance.

Till was supposed to face off against Vettori himself last month to determine the number one contender for Adesanya’s title, but the Briton broke his collarbone in training a little over a week out from the fight and was forced to withdraw.

Vettori went on to beat Kevin Holland in a short-notice fight and earn himself a title shot off the performance. Brunson however continued his fine run of wins by beating Holland himself just two weeks prior to ‘Trailblazer’ getting beaten by the Italian.

Brunson made it four wins in a row, after losing to Adesanya back in 2018 by beating Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch before a main event win against highly rated prospect Edmen Shahbazyan got him back in the conversation among contenders.

The following week on August 21st, the UFC will welcome back Paulo Costa to the octagon when he takes on hard hitting Jared Cannonier in the main event.

Costa hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the second round of his title fight with Adesanya at UFC 253 in October, after withdrawing from a scheduled bout with Robert Whittaker in April with flu-like symptoms attributed to COVID-19.

Cannonier himself hasn’t been in the cage since UFC 254 when he fought Whittaker, being nullified to a complete halt as he saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end in the co-main event.

It will no doubt be an absolute banger of a fight, with both men having genuine one-punch knockout power to rely on while Costa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt too.

With Whittaker guaranteed the next title shot after Adesanya vs Vettori 2, these fights will go a long way to establishing the contender after that. The most impressive winner is likely to get the nod early next year, in a division that is shaping up beautifully with new contenders constantly emerging to fight the top dogs that are already established.

There is always the wildcard option of Kamaru Usman moving up to middleweight should Vettori or Whittaker be able to dethrone Adesanya, with the current welterweight champion admitting that a move up a weight-class could become an option should his fellow African no longer be the man holding the belt.

UFC Vegas 22 Fallout: Holland blows opportunity as Brunson dominates

It wasn’t to be for ‘The Trailblazer’ at UFC Vegas 22 as Derek Brunson did what Derek Brunson does, wrestling his way to a dominant five-round decision win over Kevin Holland.

The middleweights met in a bout that was supposed to elevate the winner into top five status, with many believing that Holland’s power on the feet would be enough to see off Brunson to leapfrog him in the rankings.

Instead Holland was more focused on talking to Brunson, Dana White and Khabib Nurmagomedov at cageside to go along with his “big mouth” gimmick, which saw him dominated and comfortably beaten by the man who many consider as the division’s gatekeeper.

All the pre-fight promo seemed to be around Holland and his antics, with videos showing his shopping habits rather than his fighting skills on the broadcast. He seemed to feed into that far too much, constantly trying to get into Brunson’s head with actions that only hindered him, especially when it was clear that Brunson was having none of it.

A slip in the first round allowed Brunson to get top control early on and he was able to hold it for the entire round, so you could sort of forgive the trash talking in that instance. In the second, round Holland really rocked him with a flurry of shots and it looked like the power could potentially be enough to get a finish on the feet. Brunson clinched up and took him down and the talk continued, but again it was overlooked because of the time in the fight and what had transpired before it.

In the third round though Brunson was able to get the takedown with total ease and even though he looked exhausted and laboured on top, Holland opted to talk smack from under him rather than try to get to his feet. The same happened in the fourth round, before the final round was the exclamation point of that.

Holland was able to get an outside trip on Brunson and took him down, the first time in Brunson’s UFC career that he’s ever been taken down. Considering it was clear that he was down every round and needed a finish, instead of working offence and landing ground and pound or searching for submissions, Holland opted to celebrate on the ground, taunting Brunson and hitting the mat with joy as if he’d just won the fight.

Brunson eventually got back to his feet and secured his own takedown, securing a big win in the 185lbs division.

After the fight he demanded an opponent in the top five and called out Paulo Costa, who recently pulled out of his scheduled fight against Robert Whittaker with lingering issues to do with COVID-19. Holland on the other hand spoke of a desire to link up with a nutritionist and move down in weight to 170lbs, which was rather telling.

It was as if he knew the top middleweights were potentially too big for him and he went into the fight knowing that if Brunson could get hold of him then he’d have no way of winning. But he blew a huge opportunity with this fight.

His strikes in the second round where he hurt Brunson showed that he had a clear path to victory, but he seemed to concerned with maintaining the image of being ‘big mouth’ than actually winning his first UFC main event.

Brunson continues his record of only losing to the very best the division has ever had to offer and now he will look to make a charge towards the title once more, while Holland must lick his wounds and try to gather up the momentum he made in 2020.