Whittaker Assesses Impact Of 'Cage Rust' Ahead Of Welcoming Costa Back From 18-Month Layoff At 298 (Exclusive)


Whittaker doesn’t see “cage rust” as a myth.

While he doesn’t know the extent of it, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker does expect Paulo Costa to feel the effects of “cage rust.”

Whittaker and Costa, the current #3 and #6-ranked contenders at 185 pounds, respectively, are slated to do battle in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC 298 pay-per-view.

The pair will make the walk to share the Octagon inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, with both hoping to advance their title ambitions and stake a claim for a showdown with newly crowned champ Dricus Du Plessis down the line.
For “The Reaper,” Saturday’s contest comes later than planned, with the Australian hoping to get back into the cage sooner than seven months on from his setback at the hands of Du Plessis last July.

But when it comes to layoffs, Whittaker’s is a far cry from the extended period on the sidelines that Costa is coming off, with the Brazilian last in action all the way back in August 2022.

Whittaker: ‘Nerves’ & ’ Pressure’ Can Get To Fighters After Long Breaks

During an exclusive interview with MMA News’ Ryan Jarrell ahead of his return to Octagon competition this weekend, Whittaker assessed the challenge awaiting him in the form of “Borrachinha.”

On the topic of the Brazilian’s 18-month layoff, during which he had a scheduled clash with Costa in Perth last February canceled, Whittaker noted that “cage rust” is a real factor that fighters must deal with in comeback fights.

“I definitely think there’s like, some aspect of cage rust that is real,” Whittaker said. "Just being out of the competition spotlight for so long, you’re not used to the nerves, the pressures, the backroom. It is there, it is something. How much that effects you is different from person to person.

“There’s been heaps of times I’ve fought with big (layoffs); a year, eight months, even this fight is seven months or something like that since the last one,” Whittaker continued. “There’s definitely something there. (But) scientifically, to point and give you numbers, who knows.”
Cage rust or not, Whittaker is planning his superiority over Costa come fight night in California this Saturday, where he must have his hand raised to avoid a first losing skid as a middleweight.

With a victory, “The Reaper” will also hope to set the stage for his fellow countryman, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is set to headline UFC 298 in defense of his title against Ilia Topuria.

I hope Paulo smashes him