Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was supposed to face 185-pound contender Kelvin Gastelum back in 2019 with divisional gold on the line, but that fight never came to be. But after Paulo Costa was forced to withdraw from his upcoming UFC Fight Night showdown vs. “Bobby Knuckles” on April 17 due to the flu, Gastelum was brought into the fold to make the long-awaited Whittaker vs. Gastelum fight finally come to pass.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the news via social media on Tuesday. Okamoto posted, “The one that got away in 2019, is now scheduled for next month. Per sources, Kelvin Gastelum (@KelvinGastelum) replaces Paulo Costa on April 17 main event against Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma).
Per that report, Whittaker vs. Costa takes place on April 17 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The two were originally scheduled to fight back in February 2019 at UFC 234, but Whittaker was forced to withdraw on fight day due to a hernia. The fight wasn’t rebooked that year, but now over two years later it’s coming right back around again.
About a half-hour later, Gastelum confirmed the fight via social media. The 29-year-old American posted, “…see you soon” and thanks UFC president Dana White, UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard and manager Ali Abdelaziz.
The fight has not yet been officially announced by the UFC, but the UFC’s television partner in the United States, ESPN, was all over the news when it happened and began pumping the fight out to the media as a done deal just as soon as Okamoto revealed it.
UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Gastelum will be on one of the ESPN networks, so it makes sense that ESPN would have access to the information about the fight.
UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Gastelum
Since losing his UFC middleweight championship to Israel Adesanya at UFC 240 in 2019, Whittaker has won two straight fights against top contenders Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.
Whittaker, aka “The Reaper”, is right back in the thick of things at 185.
Meanwhile, Gastelum is 1-3 over his last four fights. He just snapped his three-fight losing skid by outworking Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 in February, but he had entered that fight having lost to Adesanya, Till, and Jack Hermansson. Gastelum will hope to start another streak against Whittaker.
Both fighters will enter the contest ranked in the Top 10 at 185 pounds. Whittaker is the No. 1 contender to Adesanya’s throne, while Gastelum is ranked No. 8.
Each will hope beating the other will help secure a coveted rematch against Adesanya for the title.
According to MMA Junkie, the rest of the fights scheduled for the card right now include the following:
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Parker Porter vs. Chase Sherman
Tracy Cortez vs. Justine Kish
Tony Gravely vs. Nate Maness
Austin Hubbard vs. Natan Levy
Drakkar Klose vs. Jeremy Stephens
The line-up could change between now and then, but fans will likely hope the main event stays the same since the same megafight was canceled at the last possible moment back in 2019.
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