The UFC has finalized a big time headliner in their middleweight division. Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion had finalized a headliner between Paulo Costa (13-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5).
The matchup will headline a UFC Fight Night on August 21st. Both of these men are looking to bounce back after losses in their last time out. Cannonier took on Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Fight Island.
Entering that matchup, Cannonier was 3-0 at middleweight with three TKO victories. The Killa Gorilla looked like he was going to be the next challenger for the champion, Israel Adesanya.
However, to get a title shot, Cannonier had to defeat the former champion in Whittaker. While Cannonier was able to hurt Whittaker a little in the third round, the fight was all Robert Whittaker.
Whittaker won a decision and Cannonier suffered his first loss at 185. However, there is no shame in losing to Robert Whittaker and that’s why Cannonier’s stock didn’t fall much. Now, the UFC is giving him the opportunity to get right back in the title picture with this headlining spot.
UFC redemption for Costa
A month prior to Cannonier’s matchup against Whittaker, Paulo Costa got his shot at the middleweight title. In the main event of UFC 253 on Fight Island, the undefeated Costa took on Israel Adesanya.
Costa’s blistering style and power was expected to challenge Stylebender. However, Costa put on a horrific performance and Adesanya stopped him in the second round. If I remember correctly, I don’t think Costa landed a single significant shot with his hands.
After the fight, Costa came forward with some odd excuses like the fact that he drank until he blacked out the night before his fight. However, most don’t believe some of the stories that he’s told.
Nevertheless, UFC 253 was an embarrassment for Costa. Costa was supposed to fight Robert Whittaker last month, but he had to pull out after getting sick. Now, the promotion is putting him in there with another top contender in Cannonier. Whoever wins this matchup should be on the short list for title challengers in early 2022.