deal-or-no-deal?

UFC middleweight contender and former division title challenger Paulo Costa recently told his Twitter followers the promotion prematurely announced a high-stakes showdown against former 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker for the upcoming UFC 284 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Perth before getting “The Eraser” penciled onto an official contract.

Probably because Costa is asking for a significant pay increase.

“I have got this same payment since 2017,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “It’s crazy. And I have fought the Top 5 guys and I get money as a beginner. I cannot still fight for free, bro. The time for fighting for free has gone. I love MMA, but I cannot just fight for the love. I have bills to pay. I really want to fight him, but it needs to be a fair deal, you understand? I have one more fight to do and that’s it. And after that I will be a free agent. And I think that if I don’t fight anyone my contract finishes by time. Because after five years – I signed this deal in 2017, I think the middle of 2017, and this term, this contract finishes next year I think. So, I’m waiting for fair numbers and then we can fight. Just, the UFC needs to make that happen. I want to fight. Especially Whittaker. He’s number one. It will be amazing to fight him. And if I beat him I will be in a very good position. But the UFC need to make that happen for the fans and the public watching the fight happen.”

Costa, 31, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Luke Rockhold at UFC 278 back in August and has just one fight remaining on his current deal, but also insists his contract will expire in the middle of 2023 regardless of whether or not he competes, so “The Eraser” may find it more advantageous to sit and wait for a better offer.

Or no offer at all, which paves the way for new opportunities (like this).

“You know, UFC’s a very good company, it’s the biggest one in MMA,” Costa continued. “We can see a lot of good opportunities in fight sports. We have boxing. Boxing is a great thing coming, you know, going on right now. A lot of big names. So, this makes a lot of sense to me. Because MMA is so hard. You need to train a lot. I used to train six hours. If you put physical therapist, physical therapy session, if you put massage, I spend eight, nine hours out of my home every single day. Do healing, you know, to recover. So, it’s a lot of work. And the payment, at least in my case, is not worth all this work. You understand? I love MMA. MMA brings me onto here. I’m so grateful. But sometimes you need to pay bills, bro. You need to look out for your future. And the way that my deal is, I think the big mistake of my career was signing that deal in 2017. So long, for so less money. I didn’t sign a smart deal. But it was part of my fault, part of the fault of my manager at that time. So, I’m trying to fix that.”

Costa is 6-2 in eight fights with UFC and has competed against three former world champions, so he’s certainly paid his dues. That said, “The Eraser” failed to dethrone Israel Adesanya when they fought at UFC 253 in late 2020 and then dropped an uninspired decision to fellow title contender Marvin Vettori in his MMA return the following year.

Whittaker has yet to comment on Costa’s contract situation.