Earlier this year, multiple outlets reported that a bout between Romero and Paulo Henrique Costa had been targeted for the April 27 card in Florida. It was the third time the middleweights were booked for a fight, with previous attempts at UFC 230 and UFC Brooklyn falling through due to Romero injuries.
With the matchup once again being scrapped, Romero hinted on"Ariel Helwani's MMA Show" that Costa couldn’t compete due to a potential USADA violation.
“What I hear is Paulo Costa, he had a positive test for USADA,” Romero said. “That’s what happened. That’s what I heard. The UFC called my manager and said Paulo Costa is out because he is positive and they said, ”Jacare’ Souza’ [as an opponent]?’ I said OK.”
Romero added that he was not aware of the substance that resulted in Costa’s alleged positive test. The middleweight contender later contacted Helwani to clarify his comments from the show, claiming that he could not confirm that Costa was off UFC on ESPN 3 for that reason. Romero said he was simply relaying information that he had heard.
Re: the Paulo Costa story, Yoel Romero called me immediately after the show to clarify that he had only heard that Paulo Costa failed a USADA drug test but he is not sure if that is accurate at this time. He said he would never want to accuse anyone before the facts come out.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 11, 2019
Costa has attracted plenty of attention for his unblemished record and imposing physique during his rise to stardom in the UFC. The 27-year-old Brazilian has finished all of his 12 foes inside of two rounds, including four in UFC competition. “Borrachinha” has not yet reacted to Romero’s statement. However, he did recently address doping accusations in an interview with Brazilian outlet Tatame after Romero vs. Souza was announced.
“I’m the Brazilian UFC fighter who gets tested the most by USADA – I never failed [a doping test] and I didn’t this time,” Costa said. “I don’t need doping to get all the good results I’ve been getting and to be regarded as the new Brazilian star in the sport, like I am. I don’t need these things.”
UFC on ESPN 3 takes place at the BB&T Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on April 27. The card airs on ESPN following early prelims on ESPN+. Romero defeated Souza via contentious split decision in their first meeting at UFC 194.