MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 248, a five-round UFC middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Yoel Romero. The event takes place on Saturday, March 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Israel Adesanya (-280)
Adesanya (17-0) is the UFC middleweight champion. The 30-year-old New Zealander is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC with notable wins over Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Anderson Silva, and Brad Tavares. Adesanya is a truly elite striker who is a master of using all eight of his limbs to hurt his opponents. He is able to stuff takedown attempts against him and keep the fight standing, where he stays at range and uses his technique to work his opponents. When he gets in close he is able to find openings and hurt his opponents badly. Out of his 18 career wins, 14 of them have come by knockout. Although he has been knocked out before in kickboxing, so far in MMA his defense has been excellent and he’s been able to stay out of trouble. He’s also proven he can go a strong five rounds. Going against Romero, both his takedown defense and his chin will be tested. But if he passes the test, he’ll have his first successful title defense under his belt.
Yoel Romero (+240)
Romero (13-4) is one of the top middleweights in the world. The 42-year-old Cuban is 9-3 overall in the UFC. Some of his notable wins include Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, and Derek Brunson, with losses to Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa. Romero is a freak athlete who is still fighting at an elite level despite being one of the oldest fighters in the UFC. He is an accomplished wrestler but has turned into an incredible MMA fighter due to his ridiculous knockout power and cardio for a man of his size. Romero is able to go the full five rounds and he’s known for digging deep and coming back late in fights. Six of his knockout wins in the UFC have come in the third round, making him dangerous however long the fight goes on. In his UFC losses, he was barely outworked by younger opponents, leading to narrow decision losses. His age will limit how long he can continue fighting for, but right now he’s certainly one of the best in the world.
Fight Breakdown: This is going to be one fantastic main event. Adesanya has looked unbeatable in the UFC and while Romero is coming off of two straight losses, he’s still shown he can hang with the best in the world. It’s going to be very interesting to watch how this fight plays out. For Romero, the smartest thing might be for him to use his wrestling and try to get the fight to the ground. Despite Romero’s insane KO power, it’s generally not a good idea to stand and trade with Adesanya. Ultimately, I think this fight stays mostly on the feet, and I give Adesanya the edge there. He has excellent takedown defense and on the feet, Adesanya is longer and more technical. Given how dangerous Romero is, I expect Adesanya to fight a safe fight here, keeping the distance and outstriking Romero from range as he takes home a decision to defend his middleweight crown.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya wins via decision