Undefeated up-and-coming Middleweight stud, Paulo Costa, looked to use perennial 185-pound contender, Yoel Romero, as his stepping stone to propel him into the divisional elite at UFC 241 tonight (Sat., Aug. 17, 2019) inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California. It was clearly the biggest fight of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career against perhaps the scariest fighter on UFC’s roster, a 42-year-old Olympic wrestling medalist from Cuba with devastating knockout power.
And once the dust settled after 15 wild minutes, Costa proved he’s perhaps the future of the division, edging Romero in an entertaining unanimous decision.
Both fighters touched gloves to get things started, with Costa coming out the aggressor, landing a solid high kick early that certainly got the Cuban’s attention. He got it again moments later that appeared to seriously damage Romero, who fired back and floored the Brazilian out of seemingly nowhere. He returned to his feet, though, and kept the pressure on Romero, who was fighting off his back from the cage. Romero exploded with a flurry that sent Costa backpedaling to the other side of the cage and then suddenly Romero was on the canvas, clutching his groin from a hard, inadvertent low blow. Romero took at least three minutes to gather himself before the action resumed, with Romero attempting a takedown that was stuffed on the restart. Costa defended well and drilled Romero with hard shots, forcing him to abandon the shot and return to their feet. Costa later connected with a spinning head kick before a very entertaining and hectic opening round came to a close.
Coming out for the second stanza, Romero appeared to be the more fatigued fighter. Costa came out throwing heat, as Romero slipped and dipped, looking to find an opening of his own to exploit. Costa nailed him with two hard left crosses, then battered him with a flurry along the fence as Romero flailed, firing back as best he could. Costa landed by far the hardest shots and Romero was still standing right in front of him. Romero began to increase his production with about 90 seconds remaining in the round, but Costa was still a nuisance. Romero ended the round with a nice takedown, but it probably wasn’t enough to steal it.
With Romero seemingly down two rounds, he needed to let it all hang out to walk away a winner over the No. 7-ranked Costa. He landed several hard shots, but Costa returned fire in-kind. Since that wasn’t working, he stuck his pinky in Costa’s eye, triggering a brief stoppage. Costa returned shortly after, battering Romero’s mid-section with hard shots. Both fighters, tired, began baiting each other with hands behind their backs and wagging tongues. Romero appeared to get the better of the exchanges in the final frame, including another takedown, but it was a case of too little, too late.
It was a fantastic fight — arguably one that should be a five-round main event rematch moving forward. But for tonight, Costa proved he is indeed a legitimate division contender, going toe-to-toe with one of the best in the business en route to an impressive unanimous decision victory.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 241 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 241: “Cormier vs. Miocic 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.