The reigning middleweight champion the African-Kiwi Israel Adesanya stunned the world when he requested UFC President Dana White put him in the ring with the number three ranked middleweight in the walking Cuban nightmare in Yoel Romero. Yoel Romero the fighter many middleweights would love to avoid and hate to fight is the man the champ has chosen to have his title defence against. The main event starts at 05:00 CAT on 8th of March.
UFC 248 is headlined by the one of the busiest UFC athletes on the roster and a dangerous 42-year-old contender who has not been visited by father time yet.
Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero
On Sunday night, Adesanya who has fought and won seven fights between February 2018 and today faces a confident and experienced division bogeyman in Yoel Romero. One can see that the fighters have a mutual respect as things have not gone foul but there is a desire from both men to put on a show for the fans and the division. Many are questioning Adesanya’s choice to ask for Romero who has come off some very questionable losses in his last two fight and will be looking to make sure the judges aren’t called upon in this one.
Adesanya v Romero Breakdown
The champion is currently sitting with a record of 18-0 while the challenger has a record of 13-4. The 30-year-old champion enjoys a 16,5cm reach advantage over the much older Romero and I expect him to will rely on his reach on to keep Romero at distance. Such a reach advantage is an even more dangerous weapon when it is possessed by a world-class kickboxer who has an unorthodox fighting style. While on the other hand you have an Olympic wrestler who doesn’t lean on his impeccable wrestling choosing to stand up and fight, he allows his opponents to pour on him so that he can get close enough to launch his own flurry of attacks. Romero’s unorthodox style has seen him end fights on more than one occasion making him a fan favourite. Both men are tied for the third most knockdowns in the middleweight division.
Romero is a fast and explosive fighter and generally starts his fights off fast with a high-pressure fighting skill that sees him use heavy punch combinations, high knees and quick take downs in quick succession. That said Adesanya uses the first round to watch for patterns and seeing sequences before going on the attack, it may be hard for him to predict what Romero is going to be trying to set up because of his many and varied weapons. As such I see the first round and least three minutes of the second round as slow rounds with Adesanya trying to read Romero, while Romero will be trying not to show too much. Romero is a feeling fighter and rarely has a blueprint of how he is going to fight, while Adesanya is all about being composed and sticking to the plan.
Adesanya will have an advantage if the fight goes into the championship rounds, as such its not far fetched to see the champion play the long game to counter the danger Romero possess early on in a bout. Adesanya should be looking at showing that patient and very cerebral Style Bender whom we all fell in love with. Romero throws everything with hundred percent force behind them and at full speed and if he has his way, he can get Adesanya on the backfoot which is something Adesanya has not had to deal with for the last four or five fights. Romero should try to push his work early on as he usually fades out in the championship rounds hence his last fights ended up with unfavourable decisions, this will surely be playing on the challenger’s mind.
Romero is great at inviting pressure and taking body shots and he relies heavily on his build and frame which is a foundation for his close quarter’s attacks, he does this consistently. Romero might endeavour to show patience as well and survive to be effective in the later rounds because although he has amazing cardio, he burns out in his explosive attacks. If Romero can get front foot pressure, he can land some shots to destabilize Adesanya’s impressive attacking, Romero should also look to close the distance and not allow Adesanya to pick his shots at Adesanya’s face.
Adesanya’s switching between what Romero and other opponents anticipate is coming next and what they don’t see coming will be key in keeping Romero off him and maintain the fight stays in the ring. If you watch the tape versus Whittaker fight, the punches that dropped Whittaker were not the punch that Whittaker thought was going at him. Watch the tape against Gastelum, those feints and the quick jab that followed gassed Gatselum. Adesanya’s strike accuracy behind that reach as opposed to power is the reason, he is effective at continuously finding his target and slowing down the fight just like Jon Jones does. Adesanya is not as committed to power as many stand out strikers in the UFC, but he is just looking to breach one’s defences and break down your will with wide array of shots.
As is the case with my previews I lean on my go-to pointers in getting my pick, I either go with my eye test, gut, head or who I like.
Each has served me well to different degrees-:
• Eye test – Israel Adesanya.
• Gut – Israel Adesanya.
• Head – Israel Adesanya.
• Who I like – Israel Adesanya.
So, I would put money on Israel Adesanya in a matchup that will be a test of his fight IQ to the maximum, but the last two fights Israel Adesanya took were really tough fights on paper only for the champion to show exemplary grit on his way to winning the interim title and assassin like precision when he stopped Whittaker in the second round.
My picks for the other UFC 247’s main event
I predict Zhang to still be the champion after the bout vs Joanna. Both ladies are tough and stars, but I feel that Zhang just has too much for Joanna and the rest of the weight class.