Romero claims that the reason that Costa was pulled from the card was due to a potential USADA violation.
“What I hear is Paulo Costa, he had a positive test for USADA,” Romero said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show (via MMA Junkie). “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.”
However, it wouldn’t take long for Romero to backtrack on the comments, which was reported by Ariel Helwani through Twitter:
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
I’ve reached out to Costa’s team, USADA, UFC to get an official word on if this is accurate, but no word back yet.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 11, 2019
Costa, in an interview conducted with Tatame that happened before Romero’s claims, says that a USADA violation wasn’t the reason that he was removed from the card.
“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.”
Wallid Ismail, who is Costa's manager, would issue the following statement to MMA Fighting about the accusations levied and then backtracked against the fighter:
“It’s not true, there was no doping, he wasn’t caught doing [anything]. That’s a lie. A big lie.”
UFC Fight Night Fort Lauderdale takes place on Saturday, April 27 from the BB&T Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on ESPN.