- What: UFC 298 Co-Main Event
- Who: Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa
- Date: Saturday, February 17, 2024
- Location: Honda Center in Anaheim, California
- Time: Early Prelims (6:00 p.m. ET) Prelims (8:00 p.m. ET) PPV Card (10:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPN), Main Card (ESPN+ Pay-Per-View)
The UFC featherweight title is on the line in the main event of the UFC 298 pay-per-view card, which takes place on February 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. In that matchup, UFC 145-pound champion Alexander Volkanovski puts his title on the line against the undefeated Ilia Topuria, who is the No. 3 fighter in the official UFC featherweight rankings. The evening’s co-main event sees former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker matchup against Paulo Costa. Here is some information on Whittaker vs. Costa before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 298 PPV card.
Robert Whittaker (24-7) is the No. 3 fighter in the official UFC middleweight rankings. The 33-year-old last competed in July 2023 when current UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis knocked him out. Before his loss to Du Plessis, Whittaker was 13-2 in the UFC with his only defeats coming against then-UFC champ Israel Adesanya.
Paulo Costa (14-2) is ranked No. 6 in the UFC’s 185-pound division. The 32-year-old bounced back from losses to Adesanya and Marvin Vettori, with a decision triumph over ex-UFC middleweight titleholder Luke Rockhold in August 2022. Costa has not fought since his win over Rockhold.
UFC 298 co-main event: Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa betting picks
|To Win UFC 298 Co-Main Event
Robert Whittaker betting breakdown
For a long while, Robert Whittaker was looked at as the best UFC middleweight or the second-best UFC middleweight. That perception took a hit after Dricus du Plessis knocked him out at UFC 290. However, that setback has aged a little better since Du Plessis now holds the UFC middleweight title. While this fight is not a must-win for Whittaker as far as his UFC career goes, the Australian needs to beat Paulo Costa if he hopes to get another opportunity to compete for a UFC title.
Whittaker is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC’s 185-pound division. He is a dynamic striker with a high output. Whittaker also has a deep well of techniques at his disposal. He mixed up his targets well, mainly focusing his striking attacks on his opponent’s head and legs, and he can throw in takedowns when the mood suits him or when the fight warrants it.
Whittaker lands 4.47 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 42 percent. He gets hit 3.39 times per minute and has a defensive striking percentage of 60 percent. Whittaker lands 0.85 takedowns per 15 minutes, with a success rate of 39 percent. However he has 10 takedowns in his past four fights, so his wrestling has increased as of late. Whittaker’s takedown defense is at 82 percent.
Whittaker has nine career wins by knockout, five submission wins and 10 decision victories.
Paulo Costa betting breakdown
Paulo Costa is not active. Since his win over Rockhold, he has had two fights fall out, and UFC 298 will mark his fourth fight since late summer 2019 and his first trip to the octagon in nearly 18 months. With that, there should be some concern about cage rust when it comes to Costa’s expected performance at UFC 298.
On paper, Costa is one inch taller than Whittaker, but expect him to be the much larger and physically imposing combatant on fight night. Despite his size and propensity for power punching, Costa has gone the distance in his past two performances, including one five-round contest. Costa pushes the pace in his fights and lands more significant strikes per minute than any fighter in UFC middleweight history at 6.50 per 60 seconds. Most of Costa’s strikes are focused above the waist of his foes, but he mixes up his body and head shots well. Another thing Costa does well is defend takedowns, stopping 79 percent of his opponent’s attempts.
While Costa’s offensive striking is excellent, he has a high output and lands 60 percent of his attempts, but his defense is lacking. He gets tagged a whooping 6.38 times per minute and avoids 47 percent of the output of his opponent.
Costa has 11 wins via knockout, one submission victory, and two decision nods in his career.
Best Bets: UFC Vegas 298 co-main event – Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa
If Costa can hit Whittaker, there is a chance he will win this fight by way of knockout. With that being said, I think Whittaker learned a lesson in the Du Plessis fight, and that lesson was don’t tangle with power punchers if you don’t have to. I look for the betting favorite in this matchup to use his speed and footwork to keep Costa at kickboxing range and sprinkle in some well-timed takedowns. The betting pick is for Robert Whittaker to beat Paulo Costa by decision.
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