Paulo Henrique Costa was expected to face Yoel Romero at UFC on ESPN 3, but speculation has been rampant since it was announced that Ronaldo Souza, not Costa, would face “the Soldier of God” at the April 27 event.
On Monday, Romero said he heard that Costa could not compete at the event due to an anti-doping violation. While the Cuban fighter would later clarify and say that “Borrachinha’s” alleged positive test was merely hearsay, the damage had already been done.
“What I hear is Paulo Costa, he had a positive test for USADA,” Romero said. “That’s what happened. That’s what I heard. The UFC called my manager and said Paulo Costa is out because he is positive and they said, ”Jacare’ Souza’ [as an opponent]?’ I said OK.”
While Costa himself has not publicly responded to Romero as of yet, his manager, Wallid Ismail told multiple outlets on Tuesday that the allegations are false.
“It’s not true, there was no doping. He wasn’t caught doing anything,” Ismail told MMAFighting.com. “That’s a lie. A big lie.”
Costa last appeared at UFC 226, where he defeated Uriah Hall via second-round technical knockout on July 7. The 27-year-old Brazilian is 4-0 in the UFC and 12-0 as a pro, with all of his wins coming inside of two rounds.