To quote C.J. from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas:“Aw sh*t, here we go again.” Once again Harry Terjanian and I will come from overpriced desk chairs to sports yell about an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view (PPV) event (stream the real deal here), and this time we have TWO title fights that should get hardcore fans buzzing.
While many who are regulars to MMAmania.com and those who are obsessive about the sport are elated to see Yoel Romero (possibly) become UFC Middleweight champion with a win over Israel Adesanya, or the possibility that Joanna Jedrzejczyk becomes “Champion” again, or she gets her decade ruined by Weili Zhang and remains the Strawweight champion, the question is ... Will the casuals care?
With the ESPN plug machine promoting Romero the past few days, it’s great that the “Worldwide Leader” is looking to protect its UFC asset, but can there be more?
You look at the overall theme of four international stars facing off in Las Vegas, Nevada, all with their own conflicting journey to the Octagon. Romero’s continued self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to the 185-pound division, Joanna wanting to be beloved and hated at the same time and watching it blow up in her face when she realized the real world doesn’t play with the Coronavirus or jingoism.
I write a lot of pro wrestling television, and if this were pro wrestling you’d frame these fights under any number of possible scenarios, but here’s what I’d do if I were Dana White.
Romero vs. Adesanya is a passing of the torch and legacy fight for “The Last Stylebender.” He’s the young lion who is looking to supplant Jon Jones and Conor McGregor as the face of UFC. Romero is a beloved fighter whose inability to make weight in the past has cost him world titles and millions of dollars. You have a reason to boo Adesanya, cheer Romero, or even cheer Adesanya.
Having Romero do any and all Spanish media, letting Adesanya break down legacy fights of his contemporaries or potential rivals, those simple things could have helped drive eyeballs and dollars to the multi-billion dollar organizations all the while curating name brand fighters.
For Joanna, it’s the embittered ex-champion who’s bravado and ego cost her three title opportunities, and now in her first shot at the women’s Strawweight crown in almost two years, she has to face someone who an entire large scale strategy is built around.
Zhang is not “Notorious,” but for the Asian market — especially in China, where UFC, among other major brands, are looking to grow and establish roots in — she has McGregor-level star potential. Her win over Jessica Andrade was shocking in the way she finished the woman who piledrived Rose Namajunas, but what else is shocking is that Joanna decided to lean back into the hubris that cost her in the past against what some consider a dangerous opponent for her.
What will happen? Who will win? Who will end up drunkenly fighting a puppet? Find out as Harry Terjanian and I decide to throw shade at the world and yell at the fights later TONIGHT, starting at 10 p.m. ET LIVE in the video player above.!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 248 fight card this weekend right here, 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.