The much-anticipated co-headlining bout between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev for UFC 294 is facing uncertainty, as UFC CEO Dana White recently revealed. Costa’s revelation about his recent elbow surgery, which occurred three weeks ago, has cast a shadow over the future, leaving fans eagerly awaiting the final verdict.
White acknowledged the possibility of the cancellation, stating, “Yeah, it’s possible,” but assured that fans would receive a definitive answer “very soon.”
Costa had confidently declared on Monday that he would indeed face Chimaev, who is set to make his middleweight debut at the pay-per-view event scheduled for October 21 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The Brazilian former middleweight title challenger attributed his injury to a staph infection that later deteriorated into a “bursitis infection,” requiring immediate surgical intervention.
Costa, who had arrived in Abu Dhabi four weeks prior, claimed to have consulted with doctors and his team to determine that he could still compete despite his recent surgery.
However, White’s comments have raised doubts about Costa’s participation in the bout. White revealed that they were in talks with “a couple” of potential replacements for Costa, and a decision would be made soon.
The uncertainty surrounding Costa’s participation has left fans concerned. The Brazilian last competed in August 2022, securing a unanimous decision victory over Luke Rockhold at UFC 278. Following this, Costa was linked to potential fights with former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 284 and Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291. However, disputes about these matchups led to his removal from both events.
The situation took a dramatic turn as Costa and Khamzat Chimaev engaged in a heated exchange of words, eventually resulting in their booking for UFC 294. Now, with Costa’s participation in question, the UFC is evaluating its options. According to recent reports, Marvin Vettori, who was offered as a replacement, has declined the opportunity. Roman Doolidze is one of the few fighters willing to step in on short notice.
The exact direction that the UFC will take remains unclear, but Dana White has indicated that the promotion is actively exploring multiple possibilities for the co-headlining bout at UFC 294.
Marvin Vettori has declined replacement offer. (Per Overdogs Podcast). Overdogs Podcast was the first to break shake up in the main event between Oliveira and Makhachev and is likely to have the inside track on this event as well.
Roman Doolidze is one of the only to offer to step in on short notice. It’s unclear what the UFC is planning. Dana White was quoted saying that the UFC is talking ‘white a couple of guys’ to step in.