No. 2 ranked middleweight contender Paulo Costa (13-1) has pulled out of his Aug. 21 UFC Fight Night headliner against no. 4 ranked contender Jared Cannonier (13-5).
Similarly to when Costa pulled out of his April 17 fight with Robert Whittaker at UFC Vegas 24, Costa will again be replaced by no. 9 ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum (16-7), according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
There is currently no word as to the reasoning of Costa’s withdrawal, but it is easy to imagine Gastelum jumped at another opportunity to fight a top five contender.
Gastelum has been plenty active in 2021.
The Kings MMA product defeated Ian Heinisch on the main card of UFC 258.
The former interim title challenger then suffered a loss, albeit to no. 1 middleweight contender Robert Whittaker, in his aforementioned short notice fill-in for Costa at UFC Vegas 24 by unanimous decision.
Cannonier has not fought since Oct. 2020, when he lost a unanimous decision to Robert Whittaker in the co-main event of UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi.
Despite Cannonier potentially losing out on the opportunity to ascend the middleweight ranks with Costa’s withdrawal, he will certainly have a game opponent in front of him in Kelvin Gastelum.