With Paulo Costa out of his main event tilt with Robert Whittaker next month, Kelvin Gastelum is stepping in to face the former champ.
The UFC’s April 17 Fight Night card lost Costa late Monday, with reports indicating he had withdrawn from the fight due to illness. Costa’s brother and coach, Carlos, later revealed that the middleweight had battled both the flu and COVID-19 recently.
The Brazilian’s camp had hoped to see the fight with Whittaker pushed back to May. But instead, Ultimate Fighter winner Gastelum will step in. Milenio’s CC Legaspi was first to report the news.
Gastelum (16-6, 1NC) recently returned to the win column with a dominant unanimous decision against Ian Heinisch at UFC 258. That victory snapped the worst losing streak of Gastelum’s career, one that saw the 29-year old drop three consecutive bouts, dating back to his interim title fight with Israel Adesanya at UFC 236 in 2019.
Interestingly enough, after his win over Heinisch, Gastelum had voiced a willingness to step in for Costa or Whittaker should either drop out of their bout.
Whittaker (22-5) has won both of his fights since losing the UFC middleweight championship to Adesanya in 2019. Making the trip to Fight Island twice in 2020, Whittaker saw his hand raised against both Darren Till and Jared Cannonier. Both fights resulted in unanimous decisions in favor of “The Reaper.”
The UFC’s April 17 event has no official venue or location announced but is widely expected to take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the switch-up to the main event, the card currently looks as follows:
Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bartosz Fabinski
Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter
Justine Kish vs. Tracy Cortez
Tony Gravely vs. Nate Maness
Natan Levy vs. Austin Hubbard
Drakkar Klose vs. Jeremy Stephens
Luis Peña vs. Alexander Munoz