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Yoel Romero: I'm not fighting Paulo Costa at UFC on ESPN 3 because he failed a USADA drug test

Last week, it was announced that a proposed matchup between hard-hitting Middleweights Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa — which was targeted for UFC on ESPN 3 on April 27 — went up in smoke. Instead, “Soldier of God” will rematch Ronaldo Souza in Sunrise, Florida.

While UFC failed to explain the reason for the switch, Romero seems to have the answer. According to the former two-time 185-pound title contender, Costa has failed a test administered by United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), forcing him out of action for the foreseeable future.

“The problem is, what I hear is that Paulo Costa had a positive test for USADA. That’s what happened. That’s what we hear,” said Costa on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show. “UFC called my manager and told us Paulo Costa is out because he’s positive. Now we need to see another opponent. They say Jacare Souza, and I say okay, I will fight him.”

Last year, USADA implemented a new policy that it would not reveal violations until after the case was actually resolved, which could be the reason why both UFC and the drug testing agency are keeping everything so close to their chest if indeed true.

”If an athlete has a positive drug test, we aren’t putting them in a fight until their case is resolved -- but what we can do is give the athlete an opportunity to adjudicate their issue without the public rushing to judgment,” Campbell said. “Announcing the test result creates this narrative around the athlete before people understand the facts.”

Soon after his interview, Costa reached out to Ariel Helwani once again to clarify his remarks.

Re: the Paulo Costa story, Yoel Romero called me immediately after the show to clarify that he had only heard that Paulo Costa failed a USADA drug test but he is not sure if that is accurate at this time. He said he would never want to accuse anyone before the facts come out.

While Costa or his team have yet to respond to Yoel’s comments, “Borrachinha” did briefly touch on the matter in a recent interview with Tatame (via MMA Junkie).

“I’m the Brazilian UFC fighter who gets tested the most by USADA – I never failed (a doping test) and I didn’t this time,” Costa said. “I don’t need doping to get all the good results I’ve been getting and to be regarded as the new Brazilian star in the sport, like I am. I don’t need these things.”

An interesting turn of events to say the least.

In the meantime, Romeo and Jacare will run it back once more after their first fight saw “Soldier of God” squeeze out a split-decision win at UFC 194 back in 2015.

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