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The best and worst from UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero

Israel Adesanya's fight with Yoel Romero turned out to be a stinker
Israel Adesanya's fight with Yoel Romero turned out to be a stinker
Scott Newman

After a pretty solid undercard with some exciting fights, UFC 248 turned out to be a tale of two fights when it came to the title bouts at the top of the card.

On one hand we were given a stone-cold classic, probably the best title fight in years, and on the other hand we had a true stinker that nobody will want to revisit.

Overall this was – until the main event at least – the best of the three UFC pay-per-views we’ve been given this year thus far, and while it’ll undoubtedly be overshadowed later down the line, the outstanding title fight could well end up as Fight of the Year.

Here are the best and worst moments from UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero.

#1 Best: Zhang and Joanna put on the best women’s fight in MMA history

Weili Zhang's war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the best women's fight in MMA history
Weili Zhang's war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk was the best women's fight in MMA history

Today is ‘International Women’s Day’ and so it was fitting that last night saw probably the greatest female fight in MMA history – supplanting the war between Amanda Nunes and Cat Zingano in my opinion – as Weili Zhang was able to defend her UFC Strawweight title in an incredible fight against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

It’s honestly hard to even describe how good the action in this fight was; for the full 25 minutes the two women slung absolute bombs at each other, hitting to the body, the head and the legs and never backing down for a split second. The amount of clean shots that both fighters took was insane, and how we didn’t get a knockdown at any point I’ll never know.

The fight was also incredibly tricky to score; two of the three judges scored it in favour of ‘Magnum’, allowing her to keep her title, but realistically it could’ve gone either way – and arguably, Jedrzejczyk came closest to a finish with that insane fifth round spinning backfist. But given the Polish star was also left looking like an alien due to the swelling on her forehead, it was probably correct to name Zhang as the winner.

In a fight like this though, it’s hard to call either competitor a loser. If you missed this one, you need to check it out immediately – this was up there with fights like Lawler vs. MacDonald and Jones vs. Gustafsson as one of the all-time great title fights.

#1 Worst: Adesanya and Romero stink out the joint

UFC 248's main event suffered from a distinct lack of action
UFC 248's main event suffered from a distinct lack of action

It was always going to be hard for Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero to follow the phenomenal Strawweight title fight between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but the least everyone was hoping for was something exciting. In the end though, we got a dull fight more akin to a stinker like Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia or Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson.

Like the latter fight, it’s hard to blame either man for this one; given the more reactive styles of both men, a staring contest was always possible, and that’s basically what we got. The tone was set during the first round – when Romero strangely stood on the spot and waited for Adesanya to attack – and the action just didn’t pick up from there.

In the end, the fight was largely won by Adesanya’s low kicks – he chewed Romero’s lead leg up and although ‘Soldier of God’ arguably landed the heavier shots, it would’ve been hard to call him the winner given such a low-volume performance.

Will both men move on from this and have better fights in the future? For sure; Adesanya’s next title defense, likely against Paulo Costa, will surely beat this. At the end of the day, it happens sometimes. But that doesn’t make it any better - to be frank, this was awful.

#2 Best: Dariush’s devastating knockout

Beneil Dariush uncorked a huge shot to finish Drakkar Klose
Beneil Dariush uncorked a huge shot to finish Drakkar Klose

It was hard to guess what was going to happen in the Lightweight clash between Beneil Dariush and Drakkar Klose; I’d picked Dariush to win the fight in my predictions piece but given his durability issues it was never going to be an easy one for him.

Well, evidently he wasn’t lying when he suggested that a now-healed neck injury was to blame for the weak chin he displayed in his past fights; he took some bombs from Klose here and survived.

And not only did he survive, but he was also able to fire back with some huge shots of his own, and in a wild second round that saw the two men exchange openly without backing down at all, it was the native of Iran who came out on top, stunning Klose with a huge left hand that knocked the wrestler silly.

After a bit of a dull first round – largely dominated by Dariush, who acted as a human backpack – this was one of the craziest rounds we’ve seen in some time and would’ve been far more memorable had Zhang/Jedrzejczyk not followed it. Judging by this, there may be time for Dariush to break into the title picture at 155lbs after all.

#2 Worst: Li’s hopes of breaking into the elite shattered

Jingliang Li was largely outclassed by Neil Magny
Jingliang Li was largely outclassed by Neil Magny

Let me paraphrase this by saying that I’m not trying to take away anything from what was a truly fantastic performance from Neil Magny; the TUF veteran returned from an extremely long layoff of well over a year to completely dominate an ultra-tough opponent, and he will rightly find himself ranked back in the top 15 following his win.

However, it was still disappointing to see Jingliang Li – a fighter who’d been on a hell of a run and who’d put together 7 wins in 8 fights – be thoroughly beaten in such a way, essentially stopping his charge towards the elite level at 170lbs dead in its tracks.

After a pretty middling beginning to his UFC career, ‘The Leech’ had looked fantastic recently and appeared to have everything needed to become a big star for the promotion, but this changes everything for him.

It’s not that he lost to Magny, but that he was absolutely dominated by him – and of course, Magny is a fighter who has failed to break into that elite pack on more than one occasion in the past.

Can Li rebound? Perhaps, but at 31 this probably ends any hope of him becoming a title contender, and for a fighter who’s shown himself to be both exciting and charismatic in recent years, that kind of hurts.

#3 Best: The return of the Sugar Show

Sean O'Malley impressed hugely in his win over Jose Quinonez
Sean O'Malley impressed hugely in his win over Jose Quinonez

Prospect Sean O’Malley – one of the earliest graduates of Dana White’s Contender Series – had been on the shelf for some time following some questionable drug test results, and coming into last night’s fight with Jose Quinonez, it was probably fair to wonder exactly how much he’d be able to bring to the table. Well, it turns out that ‘Sugar Sean’ can still bring a lot.

He absolutely destroyed the usually tough Jose Quinonez inside one round, essentially hitting him with every strike he threw while seemingly not absorbing a single blow in return. When O’Malley ended the fight with a head kick and some follow-up punches, it simply sealed what was a flawless victory for the Bantamweight prospect.

How far can O’Malley go? Judging by last night, he’s definitely got elite-level potential, and he almost certainly needs a step up in his next fight. John Dodson – who recently defeated another prospect in the form of Nathaniel Wood and who is a rock-solid veteran – would probably do. It’s time to see if the ‘Sugar Show’ is the real deal.

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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