The official date for the highly anticipated fight between former UFC middleweight champion Rob Whittaker and Paulo Costa is still very much up in the air.
The UFC was initially targeting April 17 for the fight but negotiations recently hit a snag after the UFC requested the fight to take place one week earlier on the ABC network.
Sources close to the situation confirmed with Fight News Australia that Paulo Costa has reportedly turned down the new date and the opportunity to fight on the ABC. The exact date of the fight is still yet to be determined.
The ABC network is free to air television in the United States and would be a massive coup for Whittaker to fight in front of a massive audience.
Legendary boxing fights featuring Mohammad Ali were featured on the network in the 1960s and 70s. The UFC recently struck a deal to air fights on the network with Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar being the first to headline for the UFC on the channel this past January.
APR 10, APR 17, TOMORROW. WE ARE READY.
@ufc @mickmaynard2 @sportingnewsau @fightnewsaustralia
Whittaker has rebounded brilliantly since losing the middleweight title to Israel Adesanya in 2019. The Aussie scored two huge wins on Fight Island over top-ranked contenders in Darren Till and Jarod Cannonier in 2020 and has stated he is eager to fight three times in 2021.
Whittaker is ranked number 1 in the middleweight division by the official UFC rankings but may be waiting some time for another crack at the strap with Israel Adesanya moving up in weight to challenge Jan Blachowicz his light-heavyweight title.
Costa fought Adesanya for the title at UFC 253 and was knocked out in the second round. The fight against Whittaker was set to be his first since the loss.