What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well, it probably looks something similar the three-round slugfest that played out between between middleweight titans Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa last week, when both men pocketed an extra $50,000 for putting on a Fight of the Night classic at UFC 241 in Anaheim, California.
Both men beat seven bells out of each other for three rounds, but it was Costa, a 28-year-old wrecking machine from Minas Gerais, Brazil, who proved to be the better fighter on the night.
Romero, who lost a unanimous decision, didn’t appear to have any particular gameplan or strategy for the fight and former opponent Robert Whittaker, who earned two hard-fought victories over ‘Soldier of God’ at UFC 213 and UFC 225, believes the Cuban should have been more tactical.
“He looked like a fighter that doesn’t listen to anyone but himself,” Whittaker said on Grange TV, per Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock MMA. “He just did whatever he wanted to do. He just did whatever he felt he wanted to do. He didn’t follow the gameplan that was made for him.
“Any other coach would have been like ‘keep his back to the fence. He’s gassed, he’s got nowhere to go.’ You know what I mean? I’m sure he just didn’t follow advice and just did his own thing because his coaches have said that before.”
Whittaker, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, also believes Romero became disheartened when the the 42-year-old realized he couldn’t finish Borrachinha with his best shots.
“I think Romero got [disheartened],” Whittaker said. “When he landed those bombs on Costa and Costa didn’t go anywhere, he was like ‘oh no.’”
Costa walked away with the victory but Whittaker believes the fight could have easily been scored a draw.
“No, not really,” Whittaker responded when asked if he thought Romero won. “I thought it was super, super close. I would have maybe even called it a draw. Either way, I would have been like whatever. It could have gone either way. It was that close.”
‘The Reaper’ is expected to take on Israel Adesanya in a highly anticipated middleweight title unification bout at UFC 243 on October 6, and Costa is itching for a chance to take on the winner. The Brazilian is currently the No. 2-ranked middleweight in the world.