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UFC 253 free fight: Paulo Costa defeats Yoel Romero in thrilling war

Paulo Costa took the fight to Yoel Romero like few ever have.

Costa faced Romero in the co-main event of UFC 241 determined to cement himself as the next middleweight title challenger, and he did just that after a memorable back-and-forth battle that saw the Brazilian earn a unanimous decision in Anaheim, Calif.

Costa pressured Romero early, but Romero fired back with a big swing and a miss, showing his threat on the counter early. The Cuban powerhouse then showed his power as he connected with a head kick, then landed a solid takedown, but Costa defended well and the action soon returned to the feet.

The action continued as Costa dropped Romero with a short right hand, but got over-zealous and was dropped himself by a Romero counter right. Costa continued to press forward as he worked Romero to the body, but a jumping knee from Romero ensured that Costa stayed wary of the Cuban’s explosiveness, even when backed up.

In Round 2, Costa remained the aggressor, as he landed solid combinations on Romero, who was patient with his approach on the counter. Right at the sound of the horn, Romero landed another takedown as both men returned to their corners looking noticeably drained.

The final round saw the pace drop as both men started to feel the pace of their punishing back-and-forth encounter. Romero started to regain control of the octagon, and let his hands fly as he attempted to turn the tide against the tiring Brazilian. After fifteen minutes of action, the result went to the judges’ scorecards, and Costa took the win via unanimous decision.

Costa (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) returns at UFC 253 when he faces middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC 253, which takes place Sept. 27 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

Before he faces Adesanya, relive Costa’s battle with Romero in the video above.

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