Paulo Costa's Fight Offer Rejected by Sean Strickland for UFC 302a month ago
UFC fighter Paulo Costa was set to face Sean Strickland at UFC 302, but Strickland unexpectedly turned down the fight. Find out what happened and what's next for Costa.

Paulo Costa’s Fight Dilemma: Sean Strickland Declines UFC 302 Bout

In a surprising twist in the UFC middleweight division, Paulo Costa has revealed that Sean Strickland, a former middleweight champ, has declined to fight him at the upcoming UFC 302. The event, scheduled for June 1 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, was supposed to feature a showdown between these two formidable opponents.

Offered Fights Sudden Changes

Paulo Costa, a one-time title challenger, initially received an offer to fight Jared Cannonier, another top contender in the middleweight division. While Costa was enthusiastic about this matchup, the UFC had different plans. They proposed a fight with Sean Strickland instead, believing it would be an even more exciting bout.

«I love the idea of fighting Cannonier, and [the UFC] suggested I fight in June,” Costa said during an interview with The Coach and The Casual. “But then, the UFC came back and said, ‘Paulo, you fight Sean Strickland on June 1. It’s a great fight. It’s a fun fight, even more fun than Cannonier, I think.»

Strickland’s Response and Future Implications

Despite the UFC’s enthusiasm for a Costa-Strickland matchup, Strickland unexpectedly declined the fight. "Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened – Strickland said no. Strickland refused to fight me. That’s what the UFC told me. I just have this information from the UFC. I think the fight would be great. I would love to fight him,” Costa disclosed.

Strickland’s representative has not commented on the matter, but Strickland himself hinted at financial considerations behind his decision, posting on Instagram, «I never say no…I say how much.»

Strickland’s Recent Fights and Costa’s Path Forward

Strickland has been vocal about wanting a rematch with Dricus du Plessis, who defeated him at UFC 297, preventing his first title defense. His last loss before that was to Cannonier at UFC Vegas 66, making his motivations clear.

As for Costa, his road back to a title shot remains uncertain. With du Plessis holding the title and potential fights against other top contenders like Israel Adesanya being considered, Costa might need to explore other options or opponents to reclaim his position at the top of the middleweight ranks.

What’s Next for Costa?

Amidst the uncertainty, Costa has expressed interest in fighting Kamaru Usman, suggesting that Usman move up to middleweight. «I think he did already everything that he should have in the welterweight. So I think it’s time… He’s not so young as well. I think it’s time for him to move to middleweight,» Costa remarked.

As the middleweight division continues to evolve, fans and fighters alike will be watching closely to see how these potential matchups unfold, shaping the future of the UFC middleweight championship.