Amid positive UFC contract negotiations, Paulo Costa eyes Khamzat Chimaev, Sean Strickland matchups

Former UFC middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa is confident a new deal will soon be reached with the promotion, and when it happens, there are two names on his mind for potential opponents.

Costa was last in action in August at UFC 278, where he competed in a Fight of the Night thriller against former champion Luke Rockhold. That bout was the final fight on his UFC contract.

Since then, Costa has complained about his pay in interviews, stating he was receiving the same pay since his debut year with the promotion five years ago. He also had to correct the record in November when the UFC jumped the gun on a fight announcement between Costa and former champ Robert Whittaker.

With those things behind him, it appears a new deal with the UFC is on the verge of being completed with the help of his manager and girlfriend Tamara Alves.

“I haven’t signed the contract yet but we have reached a deal with the UFC regarding the pay,” Costa told PVT in Portuguese. “It wasn’t easy, there was a lot of hard work, and I have to highlight Tamara’s brilliant work here.”

Costa entered the UFC in 2017 as an undefeated pro fighter with eight wins under his belt. He finished his first four UFC opponents, including former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, and his victory over Yoel Romero earned a shot at the title, where his undefeated run would come to an end. Costa lost to then-champion Israel Adesanya by stoppage, followed by a decision loss to Marvin Vettori in his next appearance. He was able to right the ship against Rockhold, and is now focused on what’s next.

While Costa said the new deal with the UFC has yet to be inked, that has not stopped him from eyeing a couple of big matchups in the division.

Khamzat Chimaev, who is planning a move to middleweight, recently said Costa “ran away” from a fight with him, while Sean Stickland told MMA Junkie he would put Costa “on his knees and f*ck him like Izzy.” Costa says he’s ready to take on both this year.

“(The UFC) wants to make sure this Chimaev fight happens at all costs, but I want to make both happen,” Costa said. “We’ll see.”