Ikram Aliskerov hesitant to rebook Paulo Costa after UFC 294: ‘I don’t know if I can trust him anymore’

ABU DHABI – Ikram Aliskerov may only be two fights into his UFC career, but has already been connected to a pair of names near the top of the middleweight division in Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev.

After finishing Phil Hawes in just over two minutes in his UFC debut in May, Aliskerov (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was then booked to face Costa in July. The fight never came to fruition as Costa was dealing with contract issues, and both fighters were rebooked.

Aliskerov, 30, was given a date at UFC 294 against Nassourine Imaov, but due to visa problems, Warlley Alves ended up being the replacement for the pay-per-view event in Abu Dhabi. Aliskerov made quick work of Alves, blasting him with a jumping switch knee, which led to his third-straight first-round finish.

During a post-fight news conference, Aliskerov was asked if he would like to revisit the booking against Costa, but the Russian middleweight isn’t sure if it would be a wise move.

“Yeah, I’d like to fight him, but I don’t know if I can trust him anymore,” Aliskerov told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter. “It’s like every time he has a fight, he gets out of the fight. He keeps on pulling out of all these different opponents.

“I wanted to meet him here. I wanted to actually ask him about it, confront him about it. The fact is, at least it’s not something that a man does. If you promise something, if you say you’re going to take a fight, you’ve got to fight. That’s what a man does. People get prepared, people train for him. I did way more than him to prepare for the fight, and then at the last minute, he just took it off. That’s not how you do it. I’m pretty sure that we’ll see each other in the future.”

Costa was originally set to compete in the UFC 294 co-main event against Chimaev, but was forced out due to a staph infection. For Aliskerov, it’s a familiar story, and he wasn’t surprised at all to see Costa get out of facing Chimaev, someone whom Aliskerov previously fought in 2019.

“My friends will vouch for me that I thought that even from this fight he was going to take off. But afterwards, he actually came here to Abu Dhabi, and I was like, ‘Oh, no way. Is he really going to be here?’ But then eventually, you saw what happened. He took that off too. I don’t know if you can trust him anymore.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

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