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Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa Breakdown

Predicting Which Power Puncher will Prevail

The top of the billing for UFC 241 is one of the best the UFC has put together in recent memory. The card is headlined by a heavyweight championship rematch between All-Time great Daniel Cormier and the winningest heavyweight champion in UFC history, Stipe Miocic. The co-main event features a welterweight clash between former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and longtime fan favorite and Octagon staple Nate Diaz, in a fight that could very well dictate the next recipient of a “money fight” against Conor McGregor. And yet, despite those two fights taking center stage, the most exciting fight on the card may just be the featured pay-per-view matchup at middleweight, between a hard hitting former title challenger, and an undefeated rising prospect with legitimate title potential.

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on May 7, 2019 at 4:30pm PDT

Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa is a fight that gives hardcore MMA fans goosebumps. It’s a fight that you just know is gonna be absolutely insane the minute someone lands. Both fighters are known for their vicious power, as well as just overall athleticism and their insane physiques, matched by almost no one else in the sport. There’s a reason the UFC has booked this bout for now a third time. It’s a fight that just makes the animalistic love for this sport that we all hold deep down to just rise and make us froth at the mouth for the pure essence of violence and strength that will be on display in Anaheim.

Yoel Romero

A post shared by Yoel Romero (@yoelromeromma) on Jun 21, 2019 at 6:46am PDT

The former middleweight title challenger comes into this fight from a year long layoff which saw him become a multi-millionaire from a defamation suit in which he won. Why did I mention that, you’re probably asking yourself. Because the suit came from a supplier of supplements that were laced with possible performance enhancing drugs, essentially meaning Yoel Romero won the case proving that he is, in fact, not a PED user, nor has he ever used them willingly, which if we translate THAT means he is naturally that much of a human specimen, naturally chiseled like the Statue of David. Romero is a former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling and has been one of the most feared middleweights on planet Earth since his transition to mixed martial arts. Romero is, obviously, a natural wrestler with an explosive style that forces opponents to be wary of the shot, which in turn leaves them open for him to attack on the feet where he will unleash his most dangerous weapon, his overhand punch, which can be equated to the human punch equivalent nuclear bomb. Okay, that’s almost definitely a stretch. But nonetheless, Romero carries fight ending power, even when gassed, which despite not having the best cardio, always keeps him in fights. In this fight, aside from the power and the wrestling, though, Romero’s most valuable asset will be his experience fighting at the top. Romero has fought for a UFC title once (technically three times if you discount two weight misses), and has shared the Octagon with a literal who’s who of the middleweight division over the last five years, while this will only be Paulo Costa’s second fight against a top 10 middleweight contender.

Paulo Costa

A post shared by Paulo Costa (@borrachinhamma) on Aug 2, 2019 at 3:23pm PDT

The Brazilian formerly known as “Borrachinha” has quietly become one of the most dominant UFC middleweights in recent memory. Just like Romero, Costa has been out of the Octagon for over a year, dealing with injuries and a brief issue with USADA. Costa’s last win came against Uriah Hall at UFC 226 (coincidentally enough, headlined by Miocic and Cormier’s first bout), a fight which he won by 2nd round TKO but also a fight where he was troubled by Hall, having gotten knocked down himself before the finish. Costa has a Muay Thai base and like Romero carries dynamite in both hands. Despite his Muay Thai acumen, Costa rarely uses kicks and knees, the patented strikes used by Muay Thai fighters. Costa also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but has never found a need to use it in the Octagon and is obviously much more content with striking. If Romero tries to wrestle with Costa, his BJJ skillset may finally come into use. For Costa, a factor in his favor going into this fight will be his unpredictability with his strikes. Costa has a pension for striking at unorthodox, feinting and using many uppercuts and elbows, especially while in the clinch or when disengaging. Again, against a wrestler like Romero, it’ll be interesting to see if Costa decides to utilize his clinch game given the threat of a takedown coming from Romero.


A post shared by Paulo Costa (@borrachinhamma) on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:20pm PDT

Experience is the obvious x-factor, given the recent history and form of both men. Romero’s last three bouts have been five rounds, two against the champion Robert Whittaker in which he showed incredible toughness and survivability. As aforementioned, this will be Costa’s first top contender fight. Another x-factor is cardio. Romero gassed in both Whittaker fights, which is the reason why he lost each, or at least the first. Costa, meanwhile, has never had a UFC fight go past the second round, so if Romero decides to drag this fight into the third round, it’ll be interesting to see how Costa responds, given his lack of experience in such situations.

The Fight and Prediction

A post shared by Yoel Romero (@yoelromeromma) on Apr 16, 2019 at 8:48am PDT

My belief is that this fight starts off slow for the first few minutes. Both men exchange jabs and leg kicks in a feel-out process. As the real exchanges begin, both men land big shots and stun the other multiple times. Romero’s past scars and damage come to surface as his face gets bloodied up and his eyes swell. Romero is able to make it to a third round using his wrestling and neutralizing Costa in the grappling exchanges. Both men continue to trade into the third, with Costa gassing out quicker, leading Romero to control the Octagon and pepper Costa with shots, flooring him with the volume and giving Romero the late stoppage win. Romero, 3rd Round TKO

UFC 241 is an excellent card up and down, with title implications scattered throughout the card, even on the prelims. Pettis and Diaz, as well as Cormier and Miocic will have a fair stake and getting fight of the night bonuses. But it’ll be hard to top the slugfest that Romero and Costa should bring. Like I said before, there’s a reason this fight has been booked three times before. Let’s see what happens in this middleweight barn burner. I, for one, absolutely cannot wait.■

Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro

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