Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev continues…for now

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Paulo Costa is still scheduled to face Kanzat Chimaev at UFC 294. Whether he advances will depend on his health. (Amy Kaplan/) (Icon Sports Wire via )

The spot opposite Khamzat Chimaev in the UFC 294 co-main event on October 21 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, currently remains Paulo Costa’s. Depending on the health of his elbow, it will stay that way.

The fight has already seen a lot of upheaval, with an injury to former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira forcing him to withdraw from the main event to face Islam Makhachev for the title. The UFC has scheduled featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski in a rematch at UFC 284.

Now, the co-main event is in question, if not in danger, due to Costa’s left elbow bursitis. Costa is now in Abu Dhabi and has been there for about 50 days, but he had surgery on a cramped elbow in Brazil before leaving. Costa informed the UFC of the situation.

But he recently posted a photo of his elbow at the UFC and later posted it online, raising concerns about an infection in his wound. The biggest concern was whether he had a staph infection. He has been training and doing cardio, but not boxing with his right hand. But training environments are prone to staph infections, especially when the area draining the elbow is ruptured, which is not uncommon.

Asked during the Contender Series post-fight press conference on Tuesday if Chimaev-Costa would be out, UFC CEO Dana White said, “Yes, it’s possible. “

The UFC has not offered this fight to anyone at this stage as Costa is still fighting. But that could change quickly if medical tests reveal he has a staph infection.

MMA analyst and UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier posted a video via Instagram on Wednesday in which he appeared to indicate that he knows who the UFC is looking at as a potential replacement for Costa if he does get forced out. replacement.

This has sparked speculation that the successor could be one of two former champions: former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman or former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

The UFC has little chance of getting close to Adesanya, who suffered his worst performance in a five-round loss to Sean Strickland in the main event of UFC 293 on September 10. lost the belt in the verdict.

Adesanya has been the company’s most active champion and the company wants him to rest. So while nothing is impossible, Adesanya’s odds of getting the job are about as good as your odds of winning Wednesday’s lottery.

Speculation about Usman increased after his friend and teammate Gilbert Burns posted a video of Usman boxing and hinted that he was preparing for a fight with Chimaev.

The UFC does have interest in Usman if Costa withdraws, but he’s not the only one. Others on the roster include former champion Robert Whittaker, Jared Cannonier and Dericus Du Plessis, whom he defeated for the second time on July 8 at UFC 290 Whittaker.

Usman defeated Strickland at welterweight, but the UFC was unwilling to allow him to move up to 185 pounds for a welterweight fight, while Adesanya remained champion. Usman and Adesanya are close friends, and the UFC doesn’t want Usman to defeat Adesanya’s potential title challenger and then refuse to fight him.

Since Strickland is now the middleweight champion, Usman won’t have that problem, so he might be interested in a Chimaev fight if Costa is unable to fight. A win over Chimaev could give him the boost he needs to pursue a shot at the middleweight crown.

Costa’s health will determine how the dominoes fall. The UFC think tank will simultaneously try to get an update on Costa’s health on Wednesday and gauge the level of interest from the likes of Usman, Whittaker, du Plessis and Cannonier in replacing him if Costa’s If health conditions force him to withdraw from the game.

That could change day by day as Costa’s arm rehabs.

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