MMA matchmaking can feel like a game of telephone. Matchmakers talk to managers, managers talk to fighters, fighters talk to social media. What hits their Twitter pages can be a far cry from what’s said behind closed doors. To that end, wires seem to have been crossed recently between former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and former middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa.
In the early hours of April 19th, Paulo Costa hit Twitter with an interesting offer. With the loss of Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush at UFC 288, the card, it seems, needs saving. A light heavyweight fight between Costa and Blachowicz might be just the thing to do the job.
Paulo Costa & Jan Blachowciz both seem interested
Considering that rumors have been flying fast and thick that Costa is getting locked in for a fall battle with Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, it seems like an especially surprising turn that ‘Borrachinha’ would jump into a short notice bout against an opponent as tricky and powerful as Blachowicz. But, it looks like the idea didn’t spring unbidden out of Costa’s imagination. To hear Blachowicz tell it, the UFC actually offered both men the fight already. Only, Blachowicz says the Costa already turned him down.
Did Paulo Costa change his mind? Could this still get booked? Or is this just more social media gamesmanship from the Brazilian to drive engagement to his increasingly popular online presence?
UFC had seemingly been targeting Gilbert Burns vs. Belal Muhammad
It could be that this bit of internet-jockeying is a direct result of the apparently failed attempt to put together a fight between former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns and rising contender Belal Muhammad. At the post-fight press conference for UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen, Dana White confirmed that the promotion was targeting Burns for a fight at UFC 288 after Charles Oliveira’s injury caused his bout with Beneil Dariush on the event to be pushed back.
A brief exchange of callouts and seeming mutual interest between Burns and Muhammad followed. Unfortunately those talks swiftly stalled after Muhammad asked that the bout be booked at a catchweight, since he “just got off the couch.” Burns, it seems, has no interest in fighting outside of 170 lbs. As of yet, no additional official booking announcements for the UFC 288 fight card have been made.
At the moment, the PPV is set to be headlined by a bantamweight championship bout between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo. A women’s strawweight top contender’s bout between Jessica Andrade and Yan Xiaonan is set for the co-main event—unless, of course, the UFC can find something thrilling to fit the bill on just two week’s notice.
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