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A couple of the best middleweights on Earth are set to clash in a long-awaited bout later this spring, and now I will give my first thoughts on the matchup in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa, UFC on ESPN 3
Top-ranked middleweights Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa will battle at 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’s probably the winner of the bout could be next in line for a crack in the UFC middleweight title now held by Robert Whittaker, who fights Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 in early February. (Although we do need to keep Israel Adesanya in that conversation too ).
Romero (13-3) is 41-years older, but you would not know it. He is in incredible physical condition and can be fighting at an extremely large level. 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 the UFC victories have come by knockout, and 11 overall of his wins have come by knockout. He has just been stopped once in his entire career, by Rafael »Feijao » Cavalcante back in Strikeforce, also at the UFC he’s only lost twice, both razor-thin decisions to Whittaker. In a lot of ways it is fair to consider Romero the second-best middleweight in the world behind the Australian champion. But with just two losses to Whittaker, Romero is at the same place as somebody like Stephen »Wonderboy » Thompson at welterweight. With other contenders in the mix, Romero needs to keep active and keep winning struggles so as 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 has been labeled the next big thing by many fans and media, but so far he’s still very unproven against the top echelon of the UFC middleweight division. At only 27, he’s correct in his prime and continues to show a better skill-set every time we see him inside the Octagon. No doubt he has looked great against lesser opposition, and if he looks fantastic against Romero and has the win he will be in an enviable position in regards to the middleweight title taken pecking order.
This is a superb fight, and the fact it’s set for five rounds makes it even better. As far as who I prefer, I think you have to label Romero as the favorite only based on everything he has accomplished up to now from the Octagon. And of course the fact that when this fight was originally booked for UFC 230, Romero was initially pegged as the betting favorite ahead of the line was taken down. Costa has definitely looked great lately, though, and he’s got a 14-year age advantage in this fight, but until we see him really beat a top man it is hard to say he should be preferred over any of these. Irrespective of who wins the struggle, this should be an entertaining matchup and it is the ideal principal occasion for the Hispanic crowd in Miami.
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