Every fighter has no small amount of audacity in them. It’s what enables them to step into the ring or cage and fight another trained martial artist with their lives on the line.
Even so, UFC middleweight contender Paulo Costa (12-0) seems remarkably self-assured this week ahead of his fight against former Olympic freestyle wrestling silver medalist Yoel Romero (13-3) in Anaheim, California.
“This is not wrestling, Costa told a scrum of media members this week.
“This is an MMA fight. We have elbows, punches, kicks and I’m [a] black belt [in] jiu-jitsu. And, I train wrestling.
“I’m very confident. If he puts me down, I will stand up and [knock him out], for sure. I [don’t] have a doubt about it, about that.”
Both Costa and Romero are returning to action after long absences. Romero last fought against and lost a split-decision to middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in June of 2018.
Costa has been out of competition since his July, 2018 win over Uriah Hall. He’s served a UFC/USADA suspension for using intravenous solutions on fight weeks, a treatment which was long allowed for UFC athletes but in recent years has become disallowed, since the UFC hired USADA and began effectively regulating itself on many performance-enhancing drug related matters.
Romero himself was on the bad end of a UFC/USADA suspension for a failed drug test but sued the makers of a supplement company and was successful after it was determined his legal supplements were tainted with banned substances. Romero has in the past been critical of Costa and even incorrectly stated that Costa had failed a UFC/USADA drug test.
The undefeated Brazilian still has plenty of anger in him at Romero for all of that. Costa told Submission Radio that the past year away from competition has been a chance for him to improve his skill, and that he’s been as dedicated to his training as ever.
“I think this last year was very good for me ... I’m very very happy, and fast. Man, I’m like a beast. Everyone will see a different guy, a different Paulo Costa fighting,” he said.
“He will not have a chance against me. He will not see my hands.”
Costa is not even attempting to advance the oft-used, “it’s all business” line ahead of UFC 241 and makes perfectly clear that this is a real grudge match for him. “It’s personal for me. It’s personal because he talked a lot of s--- about me,” he continued.
“He is a dirty guy. He is a dirty guy and I want to make him pay for all of this on Saturday and I will. I will make him pay.”
Costa’s confidence extends beyond this next bout. After the fight against Romero, which he plans to win, Costa claims he’ll fly to Australia to watch interim champion Israel Adesanya take on champ Whittaker in October.
Costa declared that he’ll face the winner of that fight and, furthermore, beat that man soundly as well. “After this fight, I beat Romero, knock him out, I want to take this flight to Australia, across the world, and I will be there in the first line watching my next opponent, Adesanya or Robert Whittaker,” he ended.
“I don’t care who, but I will beat both. I can beat both in the same night.”
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