Paulo Costa says negotiations with UFC were cancelled before Robert Whittaker’s fight.


According to Paulo Costa, the UFC at one point offered a four-fight contract worth $500,000 total that would cement a fight against Robert Whittaker at UFC 284.

Initially, the promotion wanted six.

Costa preferred the numbers, but not the fights. He said “no” and set off a standoff that led to the cancelling of the fight already announced, as well as his future at the UFC.

“I say I want new terms to fight [Whittaker],” Costa said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I will not [fight] for the same money. It’s a main event in Australia. The people from Australia will be there. It’s a great fight. So [$70,000] is not enough for that. They said that you should go higher.

” They said that [UFC President] Dana White was suing [UFC CBO] Hunter Campbell for a six-fight agreement. I replied, “No, we don’t need to do that.” I talk about that one.’ That makes sense. Why do you have six fights? That one is to fight Whittaker. Not six. It doesn’t make sense to me.

” I’m not interested in six more fights. Not at the number he sent. This is absurd. This is one fight, and not six. I did this in the past, five years ago, 2017, and I’m paying for this mistake even now, because I’m so [outdated].”

Costa maintains he agreed only in principle to fight Whittaker at the Feb. 12 pay-per-view event in Perth. The fight was never official, he said, because they hadn’t negotiated terms he felt were fair — not the $70,000 to show and $70,000 to win guaranteed by his previous contract.

The UFC nonetheless announced the bout, putting public pressure on him to sign despite his stance. Such a move wasn’t a surprise because he said it had already happened once. The record was just updated.

“I just came in and said the truth,” Costa said. It’s fake. It’s not happening.”

Costa stated that such tactics are part of difficult-ball negotiations which left fighters, particularly Brazilian fighters, at disadvantage. Costa believes that Brazilian fighters are often disowned by new contracts and remain in long-term agreements that undervalue them.

“I think they just actually offer very low numbers for Brazilians,” he said. “Maybe they think, Ah, those motherf****** in Brazil, they live in the jungle, they don’t need real money because the currency’s like five times less than dollars, so let’s pay bulls***.'”

The UFC did not immediately reply to our request for comment.

At a certain point, Costa lost his patience. Costa split from Wallid Ismail his long-time manager and began pushing back against UFC demands. His case may have been undercut by no small amount of drama outside the cage, which included a disastrous weight debacle with Marvin Vettori. But he held his ground.

“At some point, I should say stop, I will not do that,” he said. “But I didn’t, because we’re Brazilians — we just want to fight. We don’t care too much. You say “OK, I’ll fight this way. Let’s get on with it.” The No. 5 [ranked fighter],’ [and we’ll say,] ‘Let’s go, I’m OK with that, for the same money.’

“We are doing that for a long time, but it’s doesn’t help the business for the athletes. It’s terrible for fighter’s business. So you cannot just say yes. Somebody said, ‘If you are good at something, don’t do it for free — or for s*** money.’ … I did a lot in the past, and it’s enough.”

Costa believes it would be “very easy” for the promotion to make the fight if it were more willing to bend. He’s now in the limbo, at least for his contract’s expiration.

Were it not for the ongoing anti-trust lawsuit against the UFC, Costa may have been sidelined indefinitely as the promotion extended his contract for rejecting opponents. But a sunset clause left the promotion a finite amount of time to keep him under contract. By March 2023, he believes he will be a free agent.

Costa said UFC 284 is off the table at this point because it’s too close to the event to complete a proper camp. But if the promotion wants to offer him the right numbers for a fight with Whittaker or another opponent for March, he’s open to it.

A contract for $500,000 to fight Whittaker — and only Whittaker — sounds about right. As long as it has a healthy bump, he’s in.

“I need to do one more, I will do [it],” Costa said. Costa said, “But my current payment is [no], unranked man or lower ranked person.” I would like to fight Whittaker, but I think if they negotiate a little bit, because Hunter just says the number and says, ‘Take or not.’ That’s not negotiation.”