Having lost only once in his MMA record against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, Paulo Costa is still No. 2 in the division's rankings.
The Brazilian was scheduled to fight No. 1 contender Robert Whittaker in an upcoming bout on April 17 but had to withdraw due to an alleged cold. The UFC has booked Kevin Gastelum in his place.
Brunson became the third fighter with the most wins in the middleweight division after his unanimous decision victory over Holland last Saturday.
In the post-fight interview, Brunson said he would like to fight Paulo Costa next. However, in an interview with PVT in Brazil, 'Borrachina' had rejected the possibility of fighting the No. 7 in the rankings.
Asked who he would choose to fight next between Brunson, Jack Hermansson, and Jared Cannonier, Paulo Costa was clear about his choices:
"I think that Derek Brunson is far behind. He's a bit unknown, not so famous. I don't think [I would like to fight him]. But the other two, I would fight with any of them, with whomever the UFC chooses," Paulo Costa said, [translation by Sportskeeda].
Even though Paulo Costa implied that Brunson does not have a big enough name to attract interest of a possible fight, the 37-year-old has had a prolific career in the UFC, having the third-most knockout victories among the middleweights.
With the win over Holland, Brunson now has four consecutive positive results, looking for a way into the 185 lb top-5.
Paulo Costa wants to fight three times in 2021
In the same interview, Paulo Costa revealed his wish to fight three times in 2021 if he is not stopped again due to injuries, just like in the last three years.
"I planned to fight three times during this year. Just like I did fight three times in 2017. But I had a series of injuries. I could only fight once in 2018 and 2019 because of the same injury in my biceps. In 2020 too, because of an injury," Paulo Costa said.
"But now I'm very close to returning to fight. This year should be the first with three fights again. Let's see what will happen. I can do two for sure, three... I will try. Until the last day of the year, I will be trying. If I don't have any more injuries, it will happen," he concluded.