Israel Adesanya makes the first defence of his UFC middleweight title in the main event of UFC 248 on March 7, but will ‘The Last Stylebender’ reign supreme at 185lbs or will Yoel Romero finally climb to the top of the middleweight mountain?
Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero UFC 248 Predictions & Tips
Road To Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero
Israel Adesanya’s ascent to the very top of the middleweight division has been swift. The 30-year-old Nigerian-born New Zealander arrived in the UFC in early 2018 boasting a perfect 11-0 record from his time in the minors and there was plenty of excitement surrounding him as he marked his debut with a second-round stoppage of Rob Wilkinson. Adesanya would go on to fight four times in that calendar year and by the end of 2018 he had knocked off UFC veteran Brad Tavares and stopped perennial contender Derek Brunson in dominant fashion to stake his claim to being a serious contender for the 185lb crown. A win over Anderson Silva in February 2019 only strengthened his position and in April 2019 he was rewarded with the chance to win UFC gold.
Granted his fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 was for the interim belt, but a victory guaranteed that Adesanya would either become the official champion down the line or would be at the front of the queue to face Robert Whittaker upon his return from injury. It was a huge night for ‘The Last Stylebender’ and it would also prove to be the biggest test of his UFC career so far, but he rose to the occasion by putting on a kickboxing clinic to get the nod from the judges, setting himself up for a meeting with Whittaker later in the year.
That showdown with the Australian simply had to take place ‘Down Under’, and that is exactly what happened at UFC 243. Injuries had prevented Whittaker from enjoying the type or run as middleweight champion that he had been hoping for, but they did not play a part in the outcome of this one. The defending champion came out the aggressor, but Adesanya was clearly on a ‘scouting mission’ for much of the opening round and by the end of the round he seemingly had it all figured out. The left-hook that dropped Whittaker came too late in the round for Adesanya to close out the show, but it set up a dominant second stanza that saw him unleash his full striking arsenal before sealing the win with a left-right combination.
Adesanya was sitting atop the middleweight rankings for the first time in his career, but who would be the first man to step up and challenge ‘The Last Stylebender’? Bizarrely the answer to the question was Yoel Romero. The 42-year-old Cuban has been a leading contender at 185lbs for quite some time and has fought for the interim belt previously, so his name being attached to a title fight is hardly a shocker at first glance. However, it is a major surprise when you consider the ‘Soldier of God’ has gone 1-3 in his last four fights, with his sole victory in that time coming over two years ago when he knocked out Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. Romero goes into this fight having lost each of his last two bouts via decision, so him landing a title shot is the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made by the UFC matchmakers in recent years.
The fight is happening though, so how will it play out? Will Israel Adesanya cement his status as the number one man in the middleweight division by claiming another major scalp in this weight class, or can Yoel Romero finally get his hands on UFC gold having been among the top 10, and top five, in the division for several years now? Read on for our free Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero UFC 248 tips…
Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero UFC 248 Predictions & Tips
At this point in his career we know exactly what we are going to get from Yoel Romero – he has finishing power in his hands, is freakishly strong and is an outstanding wrestler who wants to take you to the mat and beat you up. He has the ability to close the distance between the two fighters and that can allow him to negate the reach advantage that Adesanya has, but there is one major flaw that will ultimately cost him in this five-round championship fight. Watching Romero fight is like playing a fighting game on your console – the longer the fight goes on the more that energy bar shrinks. And boy does it shrink, especially as the Cuban continues to get up there in age. If you can survive the early onslaught against Romero then it becomes much easier to take control of the contest.
And of course, Adesanya has the skills to take control. ‘The Last Stylebender’ is a phenomenal striker with great footwork and speed that will allow him to stay out of danger for the first couple of rounds, and as Romero begins to tire the champion will move up through the gears to pick apart the challenger on the feet. It has been quite some time since Romero was stopped by strikes in his career – try a September 2011 fight with Rafael Cavalcante for Strikeforce – but Adesanya is well equipped to hand the ‘Soldier of God’ his second stoppage defeat. When is that finish most likely to come? I would lean towards the second half of the fight – by that point a gassed Romero will not be able to deal with or take what the champion fires his way.
Adesanya v Romero Predictions & Tips: UFC 248 – Inside The Octagon
In this episode of UFC Inside the Octagon, John Gooden and Dan Hardy breakdown the breakdown the middleweight title bout at UFC 248 between current champion, Israel Adesanya, and the challenger Yoel Romero.
Adesanya v Romero Tips: UFC 248 Fighter Predictions
Israel Adesanya: “He’s a veteran, he’s an explosive guy, he likes to lull his opponent and then he explodes on them. And when I say a veteran, he has certain moves that he likes to do; you’ve got stool-gate, grabbing the fence, things like that. Check the résumé. But for me, I just have to keep the same energy. Every fight I’ve had in the UFC was the biggest fight I’ve ever had, and this is no different; this is the biggest fight of my career thus far. He’s the guy that no one wants to fight; he’s the oogey-boogey man. Everyone keeps saying, even Darren Till [said], ‘I’ll fight everyone but Yoel.’ Why? I’ve seen him get rocked. I’ve seen him stopped. I’ve see him get bloodied. I’ve seen him cry. I’ll make him cry. He’s human like everyone else, and everyone likes to make this myth about he’s steel — you hit him and he doesn’t fall. I’ll hit him enough times and make him fall.”