ANAHEIM, Calif. – UFC middleweight contender Paulo Costa has promised to make Yoel Romero pay for comments about his testing history.

Meanwhile, Romero (13-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) can’t figure out why the fight is personal.

“My big question is this: Why is it personal? I’ve never seen that guy in my life,” Romero told MMA Junkie in advance of their scheduled fight at UFC 241 on Saturday at Honda Center. “I’ve never talked to him. Why is it personal? … Believe me, I don’t know why.”

In March, the former middleweight title challenger said he’d heard Costa (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) had failed a test from the U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), leading to the cancelation of a rescheduled fight in April at UFC on ESPN+ 8. Costa later denied using any performance-enhancers and blasted Romero for commentating on his testing history.

As it turned out, Costa wasn’t completely in the clear. In April, he was suspended by USADA for six months for twice using banned IVs. Because his suspension was retroactive to last August, he was cleared to fight, leading the UFC to rebook the Romero matchup.

The rivals were set to meet in November before nagging injuries forced Romero to withdraw. He took no special interest in the promotion’s decision to pair them again.

“For me, the most important thing is when I come back, I have a fight,” he said. “I don’t care who the opponent is.”

On Thursday, the two will square off for photos to promote Saturday’s fight. Costa hopes to preserve his undefeated record and send Romero packing with a knockout loss. Romero professes he couldn’t care less about his opponent’s previous work.

“I don’t think about this,” he said. “I think about God. It’s the most important in life. God never loses.”

The winner could meet the winner of an upcoming title unifier between middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and interim champ Israel Adesanya. Romero has faced Whittaker twice, losing a pair of decisions in hotly contested fights. He’s got a tremendous respect for the champion and the challenger. And yet he steers clear of an opinion on his place in the title picture.

“I’m not thinking I want Israel or Robert,” he said. “No, that’s not me. I have a big family. When you have kids, you have a big, big, big questions in your head: What do I do for my kid for school next week? That’s the only thing I’m thinking.

“The people that are close to me, they know that’s my mentality. Why too much stress? Why do I need to think, ‘I need to fight Jonny “Bones” Jones. Too much stress. You’re thinking about this and not training. Not going MMA. Go to construction, go to piano bar, something like that. But you do MMA because you want to fight.

“If you want to fight, why are you thinking too much about the next opponent? No. Tomorrow is another opponent, and in two months, it’s another opponent. That’s it. Then, when you want to relax, OK god, is that it? When I leave, I don’t think about anything.”

Fighting is back on his mind because he’s got one scheduled. And he’s got a vicious opponent who’s obviously got bad intentions leading into the event. He’ll let that opponent simmer in the bad blood and focus on what he has to do to win.

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