Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa prediction | UFC 298 1

Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa is a matchup that fans have been hoping for for years. In 2019, when Whittaker was still the middleweight champion of the world, Costa was nearing the peak of his 13-fight undefeated streak, picking off Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall, and Johnny Hendricks in his last three fights before losing a title shot to Whittaker’s successor Israel Adesanya. While Adesanya moved into the championship role, both Whittaker and Costa were still largely believed to be two of the very best at 185 pounds outside the title holder.

The two were first slated to meet at UFC 284 in February of 2023. However, due to contract disputes, this never came about, and a full year later, here we are again. The winner of this fight puts themself back in the running for a future title shot, as Costa has been inactive, and Whittaker is now coming off of a loss to the new champion. This fight has high stakes for both.

Betting Odds

The former champion returns as a -220 favorite.

  • Robert Whittaker: -220 (BetUS)
  • Paulo Costa: +180 (BetUS)

Fight Breakdown

Both men share a similar height, reach and age, however it is Whittaker who comes in with a wealth more of experience. While Costa has fought 16 times a pro, Whittaker has almost double the fights at 31. One reason why this is important is that although Costa has been considered a contender for a long time, he has really only fought three times since shaking off the young prospect role. On his rise through the ranks, Costa essentially ran through everyone, finishing them all relatively quickly, other than Yoel Romero. He has only gone the full distance of a fight three times and largely sits comfortably in the confidence that he can finish just about anyone.

Robert Whittaker is crafty, and has an exceptional fight IQ and will be a very difficult fighter to bank on finishing. Whittaker stands in a wide karate stance, utilizing feints and shifty footwork on the outside to hide any opening for his opponents to enter. He uses his lead leg sidekick to the knee to halt forward movement as well, and blitzes in down the pipe when he sees his own openings. His best shots are his jab, slip right cross and gazelle hook, where he fakes level change and hops upward with a short lead hook. He is also very good at chaining his right high kick behind his blitzes as he circles his opponent into his power side.

The biggest challenge for Costa will be getting to Whittaker consistently enough to outland him. Both Costa and Whittaker have excellent body kicks, but Costa largely uses his boxing to freeze his opponents and raise the guard to open the midsection. Costa will have to cut off the octagon and avoid chasing Whittaker over the three rounds. Another option for him would be to invest in working the leg of Whittaker; both Adesanya and Dricus Du Plesis had success chewing up Whittaker’s leg and taking away some of that blitzing power. When Costa gets on the inside he does have some of the best boxing to the body in the UFC. He does an especially good job of being able to shorten and lengthen all of his boxing tools, landing wide hooks but also being able to shorten everything to almost clinch range when he needs to.

Both men primarily strike but have good grappling skills in the back pocket. Whittaker has high-level wrestling defense, shucking off most wrestlers with relative ease partially because he forces them to shoot from so far away with his footwork. In recent years he has also made strides with his offensive takedowns, Whittaker has a nice slip jab to double leg sequence and use a similar setup to get on the single leg as well. He does, however, have difficulty maintaining top position once he does score takedowns, and more than not, his opponents are able to wrestle up and back to their feet.

Paulo Costa, by all accounts, is a very underrated Jiu-Jitsu black belt. He has shown very little of it in his UFC career but demonstrated passing with ease in his last outing against Luke Rockhold. The largest hurdle if Costa does want to grapple will be getting to Whittaker’s hips, but if they end up on the ground in a scramble, Costa may look to utilize slick passing and solid control from the back.


I believe that the oddsmakers are fair in this matchup. While it’s a competitive high-level fight, and both fighters have well-rounded and dangerous skills, Whittaker is both the more elusive fighter and the one who knows how to win out over 15 minutes. Costa may look to mix things up and show some of his Jiu-Jitsu, but exploding forward into level changes is what Whittaker has been training to defend so much longer.

Plus, with Costa coming off of almost a two-year layoff, we are yet to see how he deals with any potential ring rust against a guy who has been setting the rest of the top 10 back for quite a while now. I would recommend using Robert Whittaker as a parlay booster at -220.

Pick: Robert Whittaker to win (-220 at BetUS)

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