The big encounter between Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa certainly delivered and one person keeping a close eye on the fight was middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.
Romero and Costa collided at UFC 241 in a back-and-forth brawl that eventually led to a highly-contested unanimous decision win for the latter. For some, Romero won the contest during the course of the 15 minutes. Others, like UFC president Dana White, felt the “Soldier of God” lost but had opportunities to finish the fight only to not follow through.
And Whittaker, who battled Romero for 50 minutes in the last two years, believes the Cuban simply operates by his own terms when he’s inside the Octagon.
“He looked like a fighter that doesn’t listen to anyone but himself,” Whittaker said on Grange TV. “He just did whatever he wanted to do. He just did whatever he felt he wanted to do. He didn’t follow the gameplan that was made for him.
“Any other coach would have been like ‘keep his back to the fence. He’s gassed, he’s got nowhere to go.’ You know what I mean? I’m sure he just didn’t follow advice and just did his own thing because his coaches have said that before.”
One reason for that may have been that for a change, Romero was opposite a fighter as powerful as him that was willing to stand and trade. Costa displayed remarkable durability as well as a solid chin to withstand Romero’s attacks, and Whittaker believes that may have disheartened the former title challenger.
“I think Romero got [disheartened],” Whittaker added. “When he landed those bombs on Costa and Costa didn’t go anywhere, he was like ‘oh no.'”
As for the fight itself, Whittaker didn’t think Romero won but feels a draw would have been the best result.
“No, not really,” he responded when asked if he thought Romero won. “I thought it was super, super close. I would have maybe even called it a draw. Either way, I would have been like whatever. It could have gone either way. It was that close.”
Whittaker faces Israel Adesanya in a middleweight title unification fight at UFC 243 on October 5. With Costa beating Romero, “The Eraser” might be in attendance for that event.