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UFC 248 card: Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight knockout artists Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero will clash TONIGHT (Sat., March 7, 2020) at UFC 248 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Few have experienced a meteoric rise quite like “Stylebender,” who moved from debuting athlete to champion in just about 18 months. His skill growth fight-to-fight has been tremendous, and it’s scary to think about the idea of Adesanya growing even more dangerous. However, Yoel Romero is not to be overlooked. The Cuban brings Olympic-caliber wrestling and athleticism to the table, and he hits hard enough to knockout just about anyone. Perhaps just as important against a striker like Adesanya, Romero is made of iron, seemingly impervious to damage.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Israel Adesanya

Record: 18-0
Key Wins: Robert Whittaker (UFC 243), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236), Brad Tavares (TUF 27 Finale), Anderson Silva (UFC 234), Derek Brunson (UFC 230), Marvin Vettori (UFC on FOX 29)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Adesanya is a fearsome striker, a man with 75 professional victories in kickboxing. On the feet, Adesanya can really do it all, and his defensive grappling has grown so much since his UFC debut. In the cage, 14 of Adesanya’s victories come via knockout.

Against Romero, the biggest key to victory is likely focus. Romero is constantly waiting for an opening, an opportunity to explode into a brutal flurry of mad violence. Even if Adesanya wins every other exchange, it only takes one slip against Romero to wake up without the belt.

Really, Romero is like a video game boss, one who has one big attack followed by rest periods where the protagonist can chip away at his massive health bar. In this case, Adesanya would be very wise to chip away with constant kicks to the mid-section and leg. Whatever stance Romero moves into, go the opposite and blast a hard round kick into one of those targets.

Wear down “Soldier of God.”

Lately, Romero is most dangerous on the counter, so hanging back and kicking to force him on the offensive sounds like good strategy. Plus, given Adesanya’s lengthy kickboxing background, his legs should be prepared for the physical duress that comes with kicking a man made of steel for five rounds.

Yoel Romero

Record: 14-4
Key Wins: Luke Rockhold (UFC 221), Chris Weidman (UFC 205), Ronaldo Souza (UFC 194), Lyoto Machida (UFC Fight Night 70), Tim Kennedy (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Robert Whittaker (UFC 225, UFC 213). Paulo Costa (UFC 241), Rafael Cavalcante (Strikeforce: “Barnett vs Kharitonov”)
Keys to Victory: Romero abides by neither the laws of time nor physics. He moves unlike anyone else, like a cat in roller blades, suddenly sliding across the mat with feral grace and occasionally losing his balance due to his own quickness.

Personally, I’d really like to see Romero work some takedowns in this fight, a strategy he’s largely abandoned outside of occasional spurts. It’s true that Adesanya has been difficult to drag to the mat, but Romero has never failed to take an opponent down when he really sets his mind to it.

He just doesn’t try that often.

First and foremost, there’s a chance Adesanya’s defense crumbles after the initial scramble fails. Adesanya has done remarkable work to increase his mat skills, but one cannot acquire a decade’s worth of grappling experience in just a couple years. If Adesanya is really controlled and forced to wrestle for longer than a few seconds, he may make a critical mistake.

Even if that doesn’t happen, a takedown here or there changes the game. Romero doesn’t want a true kickboxing fight with Adesanya, he wants to knock him out in an MMA fight. For example, if Romero blasts Adesanya off his feet a couple times, “Stylebender” may be less willing to lean backward.

Little changes like that can lead to big strikes.

Bottom Line

It’s a damn good title fight.

Again, Adesanya has done incredible things in terms of skill, popularity and legacy. He did not take an easy road to the title: he just ran through everyone. If his success continues against Romero, that’s a hugely significant feather in his cap. It likely leads to another huge fight against Paulo Costa, but really Adesanya is in the driver’s seat if he wants to pursue another title.

As for Romero, anything is possible with the 42-year-old Cuban. Sure, this should be his final chance at a title. If he loses and then returns to pick up another couple knockout wins, would anyone complain? Of course not. Until Romero’s athleticism drops off, he’ll always be in the mix and a must-watch talent.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 248 fight card this weekend starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 248: “Adesanya vs. Romero” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 248, Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero will throw down in the main event. Which one leaves with the title?

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