UFC 241: Paulo Costa wins decision over Yoel Romero after war, calls for title shot

Elias CepedaYahoo Sports Contributor

After three, back-and-forth and violent rounds, Paulo Costa scored a unanimous decision over Yoel Romero Saturday in Anaheim at UFC 241. “I trained like a crazed man,” Costa said over boos from the crowd.

“Yoel Romero is a real beast. I respect you a lot, Yoel.”

At that, the two middleweight contenders exchanged an embrace. In the months leading up to this fight, however, the two shared angry words with Costa insisting the fight was “personal.”

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The fight delivered in every respect, with each man having their moments and both leaving the fight bruised, battered, but with their pride intact. In fact, the contest played out so closely that both men would be justified in believing they deserved to get the nod from the judges.

Costa pressured and backed Romero up for most of the bout, scoring on the strength of a high volume of power punches and kicks everywhere from the legs to the body and the head.

Romero stayed calm throughout it all and finished the second and third rounds with more fervor and successful offense, despite coming up short on the judges’ scorecards. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Costa, who is 14 years Romero’s Junior, and who called for a title-shot, next, in his post-fight interview.

“I want my chance to prove I am the champion,” he said.

(R-L) Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero taunt each other in their middleweight bout during the UFC 241 event at the Honda Center on Aug. 17, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Getty Images)
(R-L) Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero taunt each other in their middleweight bout during the UFC 241 event at the Honda Center on Aug. 17, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Getty Images)

Romero has had his chance and even at 42 years of age, demonstrated that he still has what it takes to be considered a top contender.

Both men knocked the other down with punches in the first round within moments of one another. Costa pressured Romero, throwing more volume over two rounds, with punches against the fence, kicks to the leg and body.

Romero blocked most, landing his own power shots as well as a lead jab in the second round. At the end of the second Costa landed a big overhand right and Romero closed it with a double-leg-take down.

The two began the final round of their battle with a sign of respect, touching gloves in the center of the ring. Romero got inside and landed uppercuts to the head.

Costa countered with a straight and then body kicks. Romero sold the shots, and stuck his tongue out to taunt.

Costa landed a big cross to the head prompting a grin from Romero. The two then traded crosses to one another’s head before Romero poked Costa in the left eye, prompting a timeout from the referee for Costa to rest.

Both men came back swinging hard after the break, with Romero landing multiple left hands, from both stances.

Romero landed a left cross that snaps Costa’s head back. Costa shook his head, ‘no’, and then fired back at Romero with body punches and jabs.

The two next traded jabs before Romero got inside and once again used a single collar tie and uppercut dirty boxing sequence. Costa egged Romero on against the fence, but Romero backed away and called him to the center of the cage.

Costa saluted Romero, stealing his signature gesture. To close the round and fight, Romero landed big and constant punches.

Costa, hurt and bleeding and backed against the cage once more egged Romero to continue his onslaught but the former Olympian once more backed away and invited the Brazilian to end the fight in the center of the cage.

Costa landed a head kick but Romero fired back and chased him down before scoring a take down that Costa quickly reversed. Back on their feet, the two warriors ended the fight swinging against the cage, with Romero pressing.

The loss drops Romero’s record to 13-4. The win keeps Paulo Costa undefeated, improving his mark to 13-0.

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