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Paulo Costa’s Team Refutes Sean Strickland’s Allegations of Stalling UFC 302 Bout


Several UFC fighters have expressed concern about “announced” matchups lately.

In April, the promotion announced at the UFC 300 post-fight press conference that the co-main attraction for the June 1 show in Newark, New Jersey, would be a five-rounder between middleweights Sean Strickland (28-6) and Paulo Costa (14-3). Strickland posted on social media on Wednesday expressing his concerns that the fight at UFC 302 might be in jeopardy, or perhaps was never signed in the first place.

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The former middleweight champ said, “Well, g-- d--- Costa, I’ve heard you have yet to sign that contract, and I’ll tell you what man, I didn’t f---ing believe it. I did not think you’d be acting like a coward. I thought you would man up, sack up, but instead, you're acting like you got f---ing ovaries.”

The antagonistic Strickland continued, “So I went onto Google, I did the right thing, gave you the benefit of the doubt, I went on to Google, and I noticed something, man. After you fought [Israel Adesanya], you went downhill. You went off that f---ing deep end, my man. I don’t know what happened in that little f---ing pea brain you have. Do we need to get someone for you to talk to, my man? Do we need to sit you down and have you talk about your f---ing feelings? I think therapy is for weak men, but let me tell you something, dude, you’re being a weak f---ing man. If you can't sack up and make this s--- happen, we’ll get someone for you to talk to. Don’t disappoint me. Don’t disappoint the fans. Let me make you f---ing bleed.”

Costa has gone 1-2 since his loss against Adesanya, with his lone victory a closely contested decision over Luke Rockhold. In the meantime, “Borrachinha” has also gained notoriety for pulling out of multiple bookings against Jared Cannonier, Ikram Aliskerov and Khamzat Chimaev. In his most recent outing, the Brazilian fell short to former champ Robert Whittaker at UFC 298 in February by decision.

Shortly after Strickland’s video post came out, Brazilian outlet Super Lutas conducted an interview with Costa’s wife and manager, Tamara Alves, about the matchup. She insisted that the middleweight pairing has been signed by both fighters, although noting that they just received the contract.

“The contract arrived yesterday and was immediately signed,” Alves guaranteed.

According to Alves, negotiations were a bit trickier than expected, and Costa and the UFC finally came to terms. She also noted briefly that Costa was already close to the weight limit of 186 pounds, indicating that Costa had been preparing for the fight as if it was already official.

“As manager, every fight offered I may get something better for my athlete,” Alves stated. “We did a different negotiation to that fight, and as soon as we came to an agreement, the contract was sent and we signed it.”

The middleweight championship logjam—which still does not have an official first defense on the books for the newly minted Dricus Du Plessis—means there are plenty of options for the division in the future. Alves had an idea of how she thinks the promotion will play out the title picture, similar to UFC on Fox 4 in 2012 when Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida competed in 205-pound tilts. She believes that the most impressive victor among two major upcoming middleweight pairings will get the next crack at gold.

“There are two options. The winner of Whittaker and Chimaev or the winner of Costa vs. Strickland. I believe the fighters that show a better performance will get the next title shot,” she concluded.

Former beltholder Strickland is looking to bounce back from his split decision loss against Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 297. If that fight falls through, the promotion has already been offered a possible replacement option in Cannonier. “The Killa Gorilla,” who already holds a 2022 win over Strickland via split decision, is currently booked to headline UFC Louisville against Nassourdine Imavov in June.
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