MMA Ratings Podcast

August 16, 2019

UFC 241: Paulo Costa Has More To Gain Than Yoel Romero On Saturday Night

By Raphael Garcia

This weekend, UFC 241 is scheduled to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Middleweights Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa are scheduled to square off in a main card contest that is sure to reach a violent conclusion. But in looking at these two men, each seeking a big win to push himself closer to title contention, only one has a clear path to that opportunity. Costa could put himself on that top contender's perch if he can pull out the victory on Saturday night, and climb past "The Soldier of God."

In this bout we have a pairing between two top-ten-ranked middleweights, at a time in which the division is trying to develop viable challengers for the champion. The current champion, Robert Whittaker, is poised to defend his title for the first time at UFC 243 this October, when he faces the current interim champion, Israel Adesanya. Romero is the man to blame for this being Whittaker’s first title defense, as he missed weight back at UFC 225. It's for that reason that Romero can't possibly be considered the top contender for the title, even if he emerges from the Octagon with a win on Saturday night.

On top of that fact, Romero has had two cracks at Whittaker since 2017, and even though both of those bouts were packed with action, he was unable to get his hand raised in either contest against the Australian. Dispatching Costa with a highlight reel finish could boost his argument for a third bout, and of course if Adesanya pulls out the win over Whittaker, Adesanya-Romero would be a fresh matchup, but it's very hard for the UFC to trust a man who has missed weight in title fights twice before.

That brings us to Costa. At 12-0, the 28-year-old fighter is perfectly positioned to become one of the faces of Brazilian mixed martial arts. With the male superstars aging out, Brazilian MMA in the UFC is currently led by Amanda Nunes and Jessica Andrade, but there's room for Costa to step into the void left by Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, the Nogueira brothers, and others.

Romero-Costa will be an interesting tale of two styles -- Costa’s advancing aggression versus Romero’s tense counterpunching. According to UFC stat tracking, Costa lands 8.83 strikes per minute compared to 3.28 for Romero. But despite that rather large differential in activity, both men have 11 knockouts on their resumes. Romero is the type of fighter that can stop a fight in a flash, which is exactly why this is a dangerous fight for Costa, who presses forward and wades into danger. We saw flashes of that danger in his bout against Uriah Hall back at UFC 226, and if he finds himself in a vulnerable situation on Saturday night, Romero can close the show for him.

UFC 241 is headlined by a heavyweight championship rematch, but there is value to be found elsewhere on the card; this middleweight affair between Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero is worth fight fans’ attention as well. A win for Costa continues his push toward a title shot, while a win for Romero just reinforces how elite he is. But either way the fight goes, it will go a long way towards moving a division forward that is beginning to blossom with new contenders.

UFC 241
Paulo Costa vs. Yoel Romero

UFC 241: Cormier vs. Miocic 2 takes place August 17, 2019 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Click HERE for more UFC 241 Pre-Fight Analysis

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