UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero - Predictions and Picks
- UFC 248 goes down this weekend with two big title fights on tap - but can Israel Adesanya defend his Middleweight crown against Yoel Romero?
After a few weeks of lesser UFC shows, the promotion has a big one on tap this weekend in the form of UFC 248, which goes down in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. We’ve got two title fights at the top of the card – Israel Adesanya defending his UFC Middleweight crown against Yoel Romero, and Weili Zhang attempting her first UFC Strawweight title defense against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Sure, the card isn’t too deep outside of those top two fights, but with a main event and co-main event that good, it’s not too much of a big deal. Assuming everything holds up this week, then this could be one of the better shows of 2020.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero.
#1 Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero
When Israel Adesanya downed Robert Whittaker to become the undisputed UFC Middleweight champion last October, it seemed almost a given that his first defense would come against Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa, who defeated Yoel Romero to become the top contender in August. But instead – due to a couple of injuries sidelining Costa – Cuba’s Romero has been granted the shot, becoming the latest fighter to earn a title shot whilst coming off a loss.
While that hasn’t sat well with some, I don’t mind it too much. Romero’s loss to Costa was a razor-close decision and while he hasn’t actually won a fight since his February 2018 knockout of Luke Rockhold, with different judges he could also have beaten Robert Whittaker in their June 2018 fight, too. And to be quite frank, he’s a better challenger than the likes of Jared Cannonier and Darren Till right now.
This one’s an interesting fight because neither man has fought an opponent like the other before. That’s hardly surprising given how unique both men are, but it also means that it’s a tricky fight to pick. So will Adesanya’s pinpoint striking, unorthodox movement, and incredible timing edge out Romero’s explosive athletic ability, incredible wrestling and brute power?
It’s probably unfair to say that Adesanya hasn’t beaten a strong wrestler, given he does have wins over Derek Brunson and Kelvin Gastelum. But then neither man is quite like Romero; Brunson is an excellent athlete in his own right, but he’s also far more reckless than ‘Soldier of God’, which meant he basically played into the hands of ‘The Last Stylebender’. Gastelum meanwhile is arguably too small to really use his wrestling at 185lbs and didn’t really look to impose that part of his game on Adesanya too much.
Besides, the reason that Romero really excels isn’t so much due to his Olympic caliber wrestling, it’s more his ability to hang back and read his opponent before suddenly springing into action with a burst of explosive offense, whether that’s a huge strike or a powerful takedown. That means he isn’t going to play into Adesanya’s hands – and likely means this fight could be slow at times.
A lot could depend on how much offense Adesanya is willing to risk throwing at the points in which Romero isn’t throwing any of his own; like a video game character, ‘Soldier of God’ tends to almost ‘reload’ after an attack. If he can win a lot of points and break the Cuban down with shots to the legs and body – as Costa did at points in that fight – then essentially, he might only need to avoid Romero’s big rushes to win.
Can he do so? Well, if anyone can avoid being taken out by one of Romero’s patented rushes, it’s ‘The Last Stylebender’, who seems to have perhaps the best reflexes we’ve seen at 185lbs since the downfall of Anderson Silva back in 2013. With that said, it won’t be easy, as Romero might be the first fighter Adesanya’s faced who can match him for speed.
Given Romero’s stop-start style and the fact that Adesanya has thus far come into all of his bouts with a perfect gameplan, I’m willing to lean towards ‘The Last Stylebender’ being able to pick up enough points with his striking while also avoiding the Cuban’s offense to win a decision or score a late TKO, but he’s going to have to be very, very careful not to make an error; if Romero hits him cleanly, that could be that.