Most recent UFC middleweight title challenger, Paulo Costa has been forced to withdraw from his April 17th. UFC Fight Night headliner with former division champion, Robert Whittaker, due to a severe case of the flu.
Unsuccessfully challenging current champion, Israel Adesanya for the undisputed title at UFC 253 in late September, Costa was attempting to rebound to the winner’s enclosure for the first time in his career, following a one-sided second round knockout loss to the Nigerian-Kiwi striker.
Drawing former kingpin, Whittaker in his first matchup since the loss, Costa hit the headlines in February, detailing how he believes he was dealing with the effects of a “hangover” during his ‘Fight Island’ headliner with Adesanya — claiming he consumed an entire bottle of wine during the early hours of the morning in an attempt to get some sleep ahead of the matchup.
Per an initial report by Ag Fight reporters, Carlos Antunes and Diego Ribas — the Belo Horizonte native is currently dealing with a severe case of the flu, forcing him to withdraw from the April 17th. main event tilt. According to a later report from MMA Fighting reporter, Guilherme Cruz, the UFC is currently exploring the possibility of rescheduling the matchup for either a May 1st. or 8th. event, however, one-time interim title chaser, Kelvin Gastelum made himself available to replace either Costa or Whittaker on short-notice following his UFC 258 win over Ian Heinisch back in February.
The September loss snapped a five-fight undefeated run in the promotion for Costa, who had lodged prior victories over the likes of former welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks, The Ultimate Fighter 17 finalist, Uriah Hall, as well as multiple-time title challenger, Yoel Romero.
For Auckland born fan favourite, Whittaker, he’s returned to winning ways in impressive fashion following his title unification loss to Adesanya back in October of 2019, and after recovering from a bout of burnout, scored a pair of decision wins over April 10th. headliner, Darren Till, and the then-streaking, Jared Cannonier — both on visits to Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2020.