Whittaker vs Costa Prediction: The Reaper’s Revenge



Whittaker vs Costa Prediction: The Reaper’s Revenge

One of the most exciting middleweight fights that the UFC could have possibly concocted is taking place on a stacked UFC 298 card this weekend — and is also the subject of our Whittaker vs Costa prediction. 

While Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa have been circling each other for years now, and this fight has been scheduled multiple times before before it got cancelled for one reason or another (mostly because of Costa), it appears that we'll finally have a resolution to which of these 185 pound fighters reigns supreme on Saturday.

But will it be ‘The Reaper' who exacts revenge for those cancelled fights, or will ‘The Eraser' prove that he should be the next contender for the middleweight throne? Read on for our full Robert Whittaker vs Paulo Costa prediction and find out.

Our Whittaker vs Costa Prediction: A Back and Forth Brawl Goes To Decision

There's no question that both Whittaker and Costa are among the world's best middleweights. Yet, each of these fighters got to the top of the mountain by utilizing completely different styles. 

While Whittaker is more of a speed-centric, counterpunching fighter that's looking to set traps against his opponents in order to open up angles for his devastating right cross and right kick combination, Costa is an aggressive fighter who wants to bully his opponents, get them against the cage, and unleash his devastating power. 

Here are five reasons why we're predicting Whittaker defeat Costa by decision:

Whittaker Has the Superior Fight IQ 

While we wouldn't say that Paulo Costa doesn't fight smart, Robert Whittaker is a much more cerebral, thoughtful fighter in the octagon. Costa will enter the three round fight with a set game plan, and try to execute that to perfection — which isn't a bad thing, in and of itself. 

Whittaker, however, is more adept at making mid-fight adjustments. Regardless of what game plan Whittaker employs heading in to the fight, he should be able to find a way to adapt to what Costa is trying to do while in the cage.

Although the smarter fighter doesn't always win the fight, we believe Whittaker's fight IQ will be a major difference maker for him.

Costa Will Have to Respect Whittaker's Striking

Paulo Costa generally doesn't show much respect to his opponent's striking ability in the ring. What we mean by that is he has been happy to walk (almost) all of his UFC opponents down and engage with them in boxing range, because he doesn't believe they have a chance of knocking him out.

The one fighter that Costa clearly showed respect in the ring to was Israel Adesanya — a fight that did not end well for Costa. 

Yet, after Adesanya, Whittaker probably has the second-best striking pedigree that Costa has ever faced in the octagon — and ‘The Eraser' would be a fool to not show Whittaker respect, and be more cautious about how he approaches ‘The Reaper'. If he doesn't, it might mean another knockout is in store for the Brazilian.

Whittaker Has the Two Perfect Tools to Slow Costa Down

When it comes to taming an aggressive fighter, there are two tools that generally work the best: the jab, and the calf kick. Luckily for Whittaker, there are two of his best striking weapons. 

Although Whittaker stands heavy on his lead leg and keeps a low guard, the way that he fires his jab from his hip is incredibly difficult for opponents to predict — and will likely be a nightmare for Costa. If Whittaker manages to bust up his nose in the first round or two, that should slow Costa's pace down enough for Whittaker to take over. 

Same goes with Whittaker's calf kick. If he wants to follow the blueprint that Adesanya set during his dominant title fight win over Costa a few years ago, he should be kicking the leg constantly to slow down Costa's offense. 

Whittaker Can Change the Pace If Need Be

Considering that both of  these middleweight fighters are strikers at heart, we anticipate this fight to play out mostly on the feet.

Yet, if Whittaker finds himself in trouble during striking exchanges, we expect that he'll be the superior grappler — and can perhaps take Costa down and win a round or two (or even finish him with a submission). 

Costa has shown that he is a proficient grappler in his own right. Yet, Whittaker has mentioned in multiple interviews that he intends to start using his grappling more often in his return to the middleweight title — and this fight against Costa presents a perfect opportunity for him to do so.

Whittaker is a Proven Champion

The first four reasons why we think Whittaker will win this fight were all about his advantages in the cage. Yet, it's the fifth and final reason — which has to do with the mind, more so than the body — that truly sets him apart in this fight. 

Whittaker has been middleweight champion before, defended his belt, and knows what it takes to succeed on the very biggest stage. While this UFC 298 fight isn't a PPV main event, it is the co-main on top of an already loaded card; which is to say that the pressure is on for this fight. 

We aren't saying that Costa can't handle pressure. Yet, in the aforementioned fight against Adesanya (the biggest fight of Costa's career), he crumbled. While Whittaker did get knocked out against Adesanya in their first fight as well, he has also proven his ability to perform when the lights are brightest. 

Best Betting Odds and Strategy for Whittaker vs Costa

Based on our prediction for this Whittaker vs Costa bout, here are the best bets available for a fight that should end up taking place in front of a sold out crowd on Saturday. 

  • Whittaker Win: For all of the aforementioned reasons, we're confident that Robert Whittaker will emerge victorious in this fight. Although we feel that this fight being three rounds, as opposed to five, works in Costa's favor, Whittaker's championship mettle still convinces us that he'll get his hand raised. 
  • Whittaker to Win by Decision: Robert Whittaker's clearest path to victory against Paulo Costa isn't to engage in an all-out war. Rather, he would be wise to bounce in and out of range, landing jabs, calf kicks, and perhaps mixing in a takedown or two to secure a decision victory. 
  • Over 1.5 Rounds: Both of these fighters are among the most durable in the middleweight division. They should be extremely well conditioned, and prepared to go toe to toe for 15 minutes. While a quick knockout is never out of the question, we're feeling confident that this fight will last longer than 1.5 rounds.

Latest Whittaker vs Costa Odds

  • Whittaker to Win @ -250
  • Whitter to Win by Decision @ +110
  • Fight to Go Over 1.5 Rounds @ -300

Full Whittaker vs Costa Preview

You're now well aware of our predictions for this fight. Now let's get into where each of these two fighters are at in their respective careers. 

Robert Whittaker — Taking a Path Back to the Title

Robert ‘The Reaper' Whittaker (24-7) seemed one victory away from earning another shot at reclaiming the middleweight belt that he held from 2017-2019. Then, he was matched up against the current champion, Dricus Du Plessis, in July 2023 — and the fight did not go as Whittaker expected. 

Despite suffering that loss, Whittaker remains one of the world's best middleweights, and is probably only two or three consecutive victories away from fighting for a belt once again.

And considering that Whittaker is only 33 years old — which seems insane, given that he has been a UFC mainstay for over a decade — he has plenty of time to right the ship and get back on track to the belt. 

Of course, he'll need to defeat Costa in order for that to happen. This will be a tough task — but we believe he'll manage to do so.

Paulo Costa — Bulldozing His Way Back Into Contention

Paulo ‘The Eraser' Costa (14-2) was once considered one of the most terrifying and intriguing prospects in the middleweight division. Then he lost a title fight against Israel Adesanya, lost the fight after that, and seemed miles away from contention. 

Then Costa was matched up against Luke Rockhold in August 2022, at UFC 278 — and secured a decision victory that made people remember why we were once so impressed by him. 

Now ‘The Eraser' is looking to get on a win streak, and defeat the guy who has stopped many potential title contenders in recent years. 

Given Costa's otherworldly power and crisp boxing technique, he has a chance to knock out every fighter he faces. It will be tough for him to take out Whittaker in this way, but he wouldn't put it past Costa to make it happen in front of the Anaheim, California crowd.

And if Costa does manage to produce a noteworthy finish against a former title holder, he might find himself contending for a middleweight belt in the near future.

UFC 298 is giving MMA fans an absolutely stacked card that should be exciting from start to finish. Saturday can't arrive fast enough!

Grant Young is a sports writer from San Francisco. He has had two professional Muay Thai fights: he got knocked out in one, and got a knockout in the other. When it comes to his favorite fighters, it's Israel Adesanya, and then it's everyone else.