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A severe case of the flu has forced Paulo Costa
to withdraw from a scheduled clash with Robert
Whittaker
at
UFC on ESPN 22
.


AgFight
was first to report that the bout was in jeopardy, and
multiple outlets have since confirmed that an illness has resulted
in Costa’s exit from the card. This particular case of the flu has
hindered the Brazilian’s ability to properly prepare for the fight,
which ultimately forced him to pull out of the event.

The Las Vegas-based promotion is reportedly looking into moving
Costa vs. Whittaker to May 1 or May 8, but nothing has been
finalized. It appears unlikely that Whittaker will receive a
replacement opponent.

“We just need two more weeks because Paulo got a strong flu and had
to stop his training,” Costa’s manager, Walllid Ismael, told
Sherdog.com. “Actually, the entire team of trainers and sparring
partners were hit by the virus.”

Ismael emphasized that Costa’s sickness was a normal flu, not
COVID-19.

“Actually Paulo caught COVID at the end of December,” Ismael said.
“Now the cause is a flu that hit all trainers and fighters of the
team. So, there were no relationship with coronavirus.”

UFC on ESPN 22 takes place on April 17 and is expected to be held
at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card also includes a lightweight
showdown between Jeremy
Stephens
and Drakkar
Klose
.

Costa last appeared at UFC 253, where he suffered a second-round
technical knockout loss to Israel
Adesanya
in a middleweight championship clash. It was his first
defeat in 14 professional outings.

Whittaker, meanwhile, rebounded from losing the 185-pound belt to
Adesanya at UFC 243, with back-to-back decision triumphs over
Darren
Till
and Jared
Cannonier
in 2020.

Marcelo Alonso contributed to this report.


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