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Whittaker survives 1st-round adversity, takes decision over Costa

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker bounced back at UFC 298.

Whittaker defeated Paulo Costa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) in Saturday's co-main event at Honda Center in Anaheim.

With the triumph, Whittaker got back into the win column after suffering a knockout loss to current champ Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 290 last July.

Whittaker had to overcome some early adversity to secure the victory. After winning most of Round 1, Whittaker was badly rocked by a spinning heel kick. Costa followed up with an attack of punches against the fence, but Whittaker was saved by the bell.

"The Reaper" responded well in a back-and-forth second round, landing solid jabs and leg kicks. He landed a big one-two combination that got Costa's attention.

In a slower-paced and narrow Round 3, Whittaker stayed busier than Costa and picked him apart with punches to seal the win.

Whittaker has alternated wins and losses in his last five Octagon appearances. The 33-year-old Australian is now back in the title mix and expressed interest in a rematch with Du Plessis afterward.

Costa, although he came up short, put together perhaps the most mature performance of his UFC stint Saturday, going toe to toe with one of the best in 185-pound history. The Brazilian returned to the cage for the first time since an August 2022 win over former champ Luke Rockhold. Costa, 32, is now 1-3 in his last four outings dating back to September 2020.

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