Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa staredown before UFC 241

Play-by-play updates and live results from the UFC 241 main card middleweight matchup between Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa on ESPN+.

Romero (13-3) steps into the cage for the first time since losing to UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in June last year.

Costa (12-0) is undefeated and has won all four of his fights with the UFC inside the first two rounds.

Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa full fight video highlights

Read on for our UFC 241 play-by-play and results for Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa.

Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa live play-by-play

Round one

They touch gloves and Costa marches Romero back. Romero with the oblique kick to the lead leg – the same one that badly damaged Whittaker’s leg. Romero attempts a takedown but Costa stuffs it and fires back with a hard strike. Costa controlling the flow of the fight now. Costa lands a solid hook and Romero falls. Romero looks stunned but somehow manages to drop Costa, as well. Crazy fight, already. Costa has Yomero backed against the cage. Costa misses with a lead elbow, Romero ducks and moves laterally along the cage.

Romero struggling to control position in this fight. Costa standing beyond the black tape in punching range with Romero. Their toes are almost touching – that’s the range this fight is being contested at. Costa unloads a combination and Romero blocks them all on the forearms. Romero attempts a flying knee. Uses the forward momentum to back Costa all the way back to the cage.

A knee hits Romero on the groin and referee Jason Herzog gives them a break.

Under two minutes remaining in the first round. Costa applying pressure again. Romero now trying to get his kicking game going. A punch from Costa lands and Romero falls but seems to be okay. Costa lands on top of Romero’s back and they quickly return to their feet. Great left hand by Romero connects. Another one. He seems to be finding his timing now as Costa comes forward. It’s amazing how close these two fighters are standing. Costa goes for a spinning high kick and misses. Romero trying to jab and keep Costa away.

That felt like a long, long five minutes of action considering how much happened in that round. Could be one of the best rounds of the year.

The Body Lock scores round one for Costa (10-9).

Round two

Romero is slipping everywhere. Costa controlling the center, again. He comes forward with power and Romero turns him. Costa missing with many of his powerful strikes. Romero waiting to counter – that’s a dangerous game at this range. A two-piece combination lands for Costa. Heavy shots are landing for both guys. Costa works the body and head of Romero and he takes the shots remarkably well. Romero flicks him with a right jab. Costa has fought at an extreme pace so far and still looks to be in good shape.

Romero flicking his jab out again. That’s working now. Front kick lands for Costa. Romero misses with a big left hook. Costa is slowing down. Romero’s jab is connecting. Romero doubling up on the jab now – making Costa defend his punches rather than just submit to defending Costa’s onslaught. The pace is slowing – both fighters struggling to land the shots they want now. It’s mostly just been Romero’s jab in the latter half of the round. Costa misses with a high kick and Romero taunts. Romero has looked great in the last two minutes and finishes the round with a successful takedown.

Costa landed hard shots at the start of the round but Romero controlled the action as Costa’s output dropped in the last half of the round.

The Body Lock scores round two for Romero (10-9).

Round three

The Costa we are seeing now is not even close to the same one we saw early in the fight. Romero starting to land all of his shots. Costa landing some of his own. Romero taking them well and taunting Costa now. A good left hand connects for Romero. Costa swings wildly with a left hook and just misses. Romero’s left hand has been coming into play during this round. Romero jabbing the head and body. The damage is accumulating now. Costa goes to the body of Romero with punches. Right uppercut lands for Romero and he backs Costa to the cage. Huge right uppercut connects for Romero. It just slips through the guard of Costa. They’re both taunting each other now. Unbelievable fight. Romero overwhelming Costa now. He took some of Costa’s best shots early in the fight to come on strong in the final minutes. He’s ripping punches to the body and head of Costa now. Superb inside trip from Romero sees him take Costa down. Costa is in no danger, though, and stands.

Standing ovation from the crowd after what was a truly incredible fight.

We’ve got Romero winning the last two rounds. Round three was a clear win for Romero. Round one was a clear win for Costa. The second round is up for grabs by either fighter. Costa was slinging bombs, but Romero was doing work with his jab.

The Body Lock scores round three for Romero (10-9) making it 29-28 for Romero.

Official result: Paulo Costa def. Yoel Romero via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

The crowd doesn’t like the result. Romero looks confused and upset, as does his corner. Booing continues as Costa is interviewed by Rogan. Costa says he’ll be front row for Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya.

Check out the video highlights below from the UFC Twitter page:

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