11 Mar - 
Yoel Romero says he heard USADA violation for Paulo Costa, then walks it back

Last week, a previously agreed-upon UFC on ESPN 3 headliner between Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero gave way to a rematch between Romero and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

ESPN.com was first to announce the news with a confirmation from UFC President Dana White, but no reason was given for the switch. Today, Romero said on the “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” that he’d heard the reason was that Costa potentially had failed a test administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

“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 (13-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) said he didn’t know what the positive test was for, only that his manager had informed him that Costa (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) was out and that he’d have to take another opponent.

Afterward, Romero reached out to Ariel Helwani to clarify his comments, though, and said it was what he had heard and that he didn’t want to accuse someone hastily. (via Twitter)

MMA Junkie wasn’t immediately able to reach Costa’s team for comment. The middleweight, however, had touched on the subject in an interview with Brazilian website Tatame. It came out before the Romero interview and therefore doesn’t address it specifically, just general accusations that doping was behind the switch.

“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.”

The Brazilian also said he would be able to talk about the reasons behind the bout falling through “soon,” but that, for the moment, “I’d rather keep this quiet, wait for the UFC to say what happened, and then everyone will know better, including me.”

The UFC hasn’t officially commented on the matter. This past July, the promotion and USADA changed their policies and stopped announcing potential anti-doping violations committed by UFC fighters until their cases are resolved.

UFC on ESPN 3 takes place April 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. The card airs on ESPN following early prelims on ESPN+.

The UFC on ESPN 3 lineup includes:

  • Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo Souza
  • Ion Cutelaba vs. Glover Teixeira
  • John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen
  • Carla Esparza vs. Livinha Souza
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Augusto Sakai
  • Dhiego Lima vs. Court McGee
  • Jason Gonzalez vs. Jim Miller
  • Jodie Esquibel vs. Jessica Penne
  • Greg Hardy vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov

For more on UFC on ESPN 3, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.