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UFC 241 results: Paulo Costa calls for title shot following win over Yoel Romero in instant classic

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Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa taunt each other during their middleweight bout at UFC 241 in Anaheim, California, on Saturday
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paulo Costa wants a title shot after earning the biggest win of his career at UFC 241.

It was a bloody back-and-forth battle over all three rounds, but Costa gutted out a unanimous decision against fellow middleweight contender Yoel Romero in a potential “Fight of the Year” candidate. The judges all scored the fight 29-28 in Costa’s favor as he remains undefeated in his career.

“I bring my best for this fight. I’m training like a crazy man. Yoel Romero is a real beast,” Costa said after the win. “I just came here to take my belt. I will be waiting for [Israel] Adesanya against [Robert] Whittaker.

“After this fight, I want my chance to prove I am the champion.”

Both fighters displayed ungodly power in the opening minutes of the fight with Costa moving forward and Romero biding his time before unleashing his counter shots.

Known for his explosive combinations, Romero did not disappoint as he constantly chipped away at Costa’s defense before landing a strike that put the Brazilian down for a moment.

Costa was quick to get back to his feet and he attempted to overwhelm Romero, which then led to a knockdown of his own. Romero bounced back and he was immediately back in Costa’s face as the middleweights were just dropping bombs on each other.

The only thing that slowed the fighters down in the opening round was an accidental knee strike that Costa landed low, which put Romero down for a few moments as the action was paused momentarily.

It was a non-stop pace but Costa didn’t appear to slow down whatsoever as the fight moved into the second round. He was constantly plodding forward and just launching every punch to the head with fight finishing instinct.

Costa also cracked several hard kicks to the body but he had to be cautious because Romero was still keeping him honest with his counter shots that were landing with speed and surgical precision.

The constant barrage of punches started to add up late in the round with Romero landing at will and then closing with a huge double leg takedown. Costa was noticeably slower in those last few exchanges but he refused to back down under the brightest spotlight in his career.

With a string of third-round finishes on his resume, Romero was definitely on the attack in those final five minutes but Costa still connected with several hard shots to the body that pushed the Olympic silver medalist backwards.

In response, Romero finally started pushing forward where he tagged Costa with blistering uppercut that snapped the Brazilian’s head back. Romero was definitely getting the better of the exchanges but Costa’s ability to absorb damage and then fire back with staggering power even as his gas tank was waning was remarkable.

The fighters were obviously both drained afterwards but Costa held his hands high confident that he had done enough to get the victory.

Now with a perfect 13-0 record including the victory over Romero on Saturday night, Costa seems like the clear cut No. 1 contender to face the winner of the UFC 243 middleweight title unification bout between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya.