Paulo Costa was 12-0 when he stepped into the cage to face Yoel Romero on the pay-per-view portion of the August 2019 UFC 241 fight card. At the time of the contest, Romero was the No. 2 ranked fighter in the UFC middleweight division while Costa checked in at the No. 7 spot.
The odds favored Romero, who was a -150 favorite over the +120 Costa. Romero was looking to get back in the win column after he dropped a split-decision to then-middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. That contest was not a title fight because Romero was heavy on the scale ahead of that matchup.
Both fighters were powerfully built and known for their stopping power. Romero had 11 knockout wins entering the contest, while Costa had not gone the distance before he faced Romero. Costa had 11 knockout wins and one submission victory at the time and had never left the second round.
Romero and Costa both scored knockdowns in the first round, but neither fighter could get the finish as the bout went the full 15 minutes.
The number of significant strikes that were landed throughout the contest were very close as Romero landed 125 significant strikes to Costa’s 118. However, Costa was more effective in his striking. He landed at a 55 percent rate. Romero was over 10 percentage points below that at 44 percent.
When the scores for the bout were read, Costa won the fight by unanimous decision with three scores of 29-28. The high energy contest also earned the competitors “Fight of the Night” honors.
The win over Romero earned Costa a shot at the UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. That fight takes place tonight and is the headlining contest on the UFC 253 pay-per-view card.
Before that fight takes place, watch Costa defeat Romero.
253 Full-UFC 253 takes place tonight in Abu Dhabi. The main card streams on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN+ and ESPN2 and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.