A huge middleweight fight with title implications took place Saturday night at UFC 241 as Yoel Romero took on Paulo Costa.
The battle of 185-pound finishers served as the featured bout at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Romero was looking to get back to his winning ways after losing a very close split decision to Robert Whittaker 14 months ago at UFC 225. “Soldier of God” had flip-flopped wins and losses over his last four fights, including a second loss to the current middleweight champ Whittaker, but also two devastating finishes of former champions Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.
Costa had been on a rampage since making his UFC debut in March 2017. “The Eraser” has picked up knockout wins over Garreth McLellan, Oluwale Bamgbose, Johny Hendricks and Uriah Hall to set himself up for the biggest fight of his career against Romero.
The crowd is amped, I am amped, you are amped and this featured bout is underway. Costa throws a body kick early and comes up short. Left hand by Romero just misses. Big head kick by Romero and they tie up, heading to the ground. Costa lands an uppercut out of the scramble and just misses a high kick. Costa clips Romero, and Romero knocks Costa down! This is nuts, ladies and gentlemen! Punch and kick to the body from Costa. Left hand counter by Romero, who eats a leg kick from Costa. Big swing and miss for Costa, and a left hand by Romero. Body shot from Costa as Romero was throwing a spinning back fist. Romero with a left hand, and Costa lands a right hand, followed by a body kick. Costa landing big shots with Romero against the fence. Flying knee lands by Romero, who pushes Costa against the fence. Knee lands by Costa, but it lands low and Romero is down in pain as the action stops. Romero slow to get to his feet as he has up to five minutes to compose himself. Romero trying to walk it off and he looks ready to go. Jason Herzog gets them set and back they go with under two minutes to go. Romero slips after a kick and eats a leg kick by Costa. Left hand over the top by Romero and Costa comes up short on a high kick. Romero shoots a single, Costa sprawls and lands some big shots. Romero gets up and lands a big left hand. Costa lands body shots against the fence. Romero answers upon separation. Right hand to the body by Costa, counter left hand to the face by Romero. Under 30 seconds to go and Costa stalking Romero. Spinning back kick just misses by Costa. Right hand by “The Eraser” lands as the horn sounds. What a crazy round!
MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Costa
They meet in the center and Romero throws a few kicks to the body that come up short. Costa comes forward and lands a nice combination. Romero answers with a right uppercut. Leg kick lands hard by Costa, then again to the body. Left hook to the body drills Romero and Costa walks his opponent down. Left hand lands by Costa and a right over the top. Costa unloading on Romero against the fence, but Romero eats it well. Nice, sneaky jab by Romero. Right hand by Costa lands. We approach the halfway point of the round and Romero lands a nice right jab. Body kick by Costa lands and Romero is looking a but more comfortable. Nice jab by Romero and Costa walks forward. Left jab by Romero and Costa is trying to chase his opponent down. Another left hand by Romero and a leg kick as well. Another left lands by Romero. Costa lands a nice right hand to the body. Romero with a left jab and a body kick. Costa throws a high kick, blocked by Romero. Uppercut by Romero lands. Under 10 seconds they go and Romero lands a big takedown as the round ends. Close round, leaning towards Costa, but the momentum looks to have shifted to Romero.
MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Costa
The Honda Center crowd is on their feet as the final round begins. Romero loves the third round comeback, can he do it again? Short leg kicks land by Romero, and lands a nice left hand. Romero clinches and lands some dirty boxing. Body kick from Costa, and another one. Jab, hook from Romero, who eats a right hand from Costa. Jab lands by Romero and Costa answers to the body. Herzog stops the action due to an accidental eye poke by Romero. The doctor comes in to check out the eye of Costa who seems to be OK as Herzog warns Romero. We’re back to action and Costa lands a nice left hand. Left jab by Romero lands and Costa answers with one of his own. Another right to the body by Costa, and a right over the top follows. Left hand lands by Romero, and a body shot as Romero is trying to turn it on. Romero with a nice left hand that caught Costa’s attention. Costa returns fire to the body and the head of Romero. They trade jabs and Romero lands a back fist. Uppercuts land by Romero, who then backs away. Costa calls him over and Romero lands another hard uppercut. Under 90 seconds to go and Romero lands a nice flurry of dirty boxing uppercuts. Romero turning it on and backs away. Under one minute left and Romero peppering Costa with jabs. Big left hand by Romero, Costa with a high kick and Romero charges over. Paulo Costa with a body shot and they trade punches in the center. Romero with an inside trip, but Costa scrambles back to his feet. Romero lands a left hand as the round ends. What a fight! Second round will decide this one.
MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Romero and the fight 29-28 for Costa
Official result: Paulo Costa def. Yoel Romero via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)