Two of the best middleweights around the planet are set to clash at a long-awaited bout after this spring, and now I will give my first thoughts on the matchup in the present MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa, UFC on ESPN 3
Top-ranked middleweights Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa will clash in the main event of UFC on ESPN 3, which is set for April 27 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The bout was first reported by Combate. It’ll be a five-round fight, it is probably the winner of the bout could be next in line to get a crack in the UFC middleweight title now held by Robert Whittaker, that fights Kelvin Gastelum in UFC 234 in early February. (Although we need to maintain Israel Adesanya in that conversation as well).
Romero (13-3) is 41-years old, but you would not know it. He is in incredible physical condition and is fighting an extremely high degree. The Cuban wrestling senstation is 9-2 overall from the UFC, with wins over the likes of Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza, Lyoto Machida, Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson. Seven of his UFC victories have come by knockout, and 11 overall of his wins have come by knockout. He’s only been stopped once in his whole career, by Rafael”Feijao” Cavalcante back in Strikeforce, and at the UFC he has lost two, both razor-thin choices to Whittaker. In a lot of ways it’s fair to consider Romero the second-best middleweight in the world behind the Australian winner. But with two losses to Whittaker, Romero is at the same spot as someone like Stephen”Wonderboy” Thompson in welterweight. Together with other contenders in the mix, Romero needs to keep active and keep winning fights in order to maybe receive a third title fight against the Whittaker vs. Gastelum winner.
Costa (12-0) is a perfect 4-0 at the UFC and all of his career victories have come by knockout or entry, including brutal knockouts over Johny Hendricks and Uriah Hall in his last two bouts. The Brazilian was tagged the upcoming big thing by most fans and media, but so far he is still quite unproven against the upper echelon of this UFC middleweight division. At only 27, he is correct in his prime and continues to demonstrate a better skill-set every time we see him within the Octagon. No doubt he has looked fantastic against lesser opposition, and if he looks great against Romero and has the win he will be in an enviable position in regards to the middleweight title shot pecking order.
This is a superb fight, and also the fact it’s set for five rounds makes it even better. As far as that I favor, I believe you have to tag Romero as the favored just based on what he has accomplished so far in the Octagon. Not to mention that when this fight was originally reserved for UFC 230, Romero was initially pegged as the betting favorite ahead of the line was shot down. Costa has looked great recently, though, and he has a 14-year age benefit in this fight, but until we see him actually beat a top guy it is difficult to say he should be favored over any of them. Regardless of who wins the fight, this should be a fun matchup and it’s the perfect main event for the Hispanic audience in Miami.
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