Fans just know some fights are going to deliver, and the UFC 241 clash between Yoel Romero and Paulo Henrique Costa qualified as one of them.
Both middleweight contenders were intent on securing a title shot with a victory, and they put everything on the line in a wild back-and-forth encounter that saw Costa prevail by unanimous decision on Aug. 17 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for the undefeated Costa.
Round 1 set the tone. Romero went for a takedown, but his opponent managed to pop right back to his feet. “The Soldier of God” then unleashed a devastating right hand that dropped Costa, but the Brazilian again returned to an upright position and did so with a laugh. After a strong start from Romero, “Borrachinha” rebounded and the two 185-pound brutes delivered give-and-take action that saw Costa work over Romero’s body while the Cuban wrestler hunted a knockout. Romero appeared to be closing in on a finish a few times, as he cracked his counterpart with a thudding left hand and connected with a flying knee. An errant kick may have saved Costa, a low blow to Romero resulting in a pause to the action for several minutes. Once the fight was restarted, Costa looked like the fresher man and managed to gain a clear advantage during the round. He pushed Romero to the ground, landed some brutal strikes and continued to pepper the body while the 2000 Olympic silver medalist sought a fight-ending shot. Sherdog’s 2019 “Round of the Year” concluded with Costa attempting a spinning wheel kick—a perfect way to cap off a crazy five minutes of chaos.
The rest of the bout was just as chaotic, albeit at a slower pace. Fatigue took its toll on the two muscular middleweights, but Costa emerged with a unanimous verdict over the American Top Team standout. While the Brazilian was installed as the No. 1 contender for Israel Adesanya’s 185-pound crown, he has since suffered a biceps injury that could result in Romero receiving a title shot first.
In the race for “Round of the Year” honors, Costa-Romero R1 beat out the third round of Bryan Barberena-Vicente Luque at UFC on ESPN 1, the second round of Yair Rodriguez-Jeremy Stephens at UFC on ESPN 6, the first round of Pedro Munhoz-Cody Garbrandt at UFC 235 and the third round of Brad Riddell-Jamie Mullarkey at UFC 243.