Despite back-to-back losses, No. 3-ranked Middleweight “Boogeyman,” Yoel Romero, was granted a title shot to fight dynamic 185-pound champion, Israel Adesanya, tonight (Sat., March 7, 2020) at UFC 248, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Adesanya actually called out the terrifying “Soldier of God” after No. 1-ranked contender, Paulo Costa, was sidelined with an injury. And he apparently knew what he was doing, I guess, winning a unanimous decision in what can only be described as a really weird fight (watch highlights).
Romero sauntered out of his corner, his hands protecting his head, barely moving to start the bout. Adesanya, not really knowing what to make of it, bounced and feinted at range, not throwing anything until a low kick more than one minute into the match. Two minutes in and the referee encouraged them to actually start fighting, but neither really felt obliged to actually do it. Adesanya finally started to open up around the two-minute mark, but Romero responded with a stinging shot that connected to the left eye of “Last Stylebender.” Romero seemed to finally come to life with 30 seconds remaining, bouncing and bobbing across the cage, but it came to a close to a hail of boos from the frustrated crowd.
Adesanya looked to find an opening early, and when he bopped in to try and land a knee, Romero fired back with a violent overhand. Adesanya scored with a nice kick to the body, then and inside leg kick, while staying out of range. Adesanya appeared frustrated, but then just like that, Romero exploded with a barrage of punches along the cage the looked a lot worse than it was. Adesanya was fine, but the explosiveness of Romero no doubt was on his mind. In the end, despite the random bursts from Romero, it was a rather uneventful five minutes.
Adesanya uncorked a high kick early in the third round, which Romero ducked under and tried to counter, but he whiffed. The pair traded low kicks, but again, the pace was super slow. Nevertheless, Adesanya continued to score points with his feet, strafing Romero from range with a healthy dose of kicks. Adesanya connected with a few jabs, then a glancing head kick, as the round came to a close with Romero, once again, offering very little offensive output.
To start the championship rounds, the referee reminded both fighters that they needed to give the judges “something to score.” After some more non-action — then a brief stoppage for an inadvertent eye poke — Romero exploded for a rare takedown, but Adesanya returned to his feet quickly. Romero actually began to pick up the pace after another suggestion from the referee, but Adesanya was nowhere to be found as the Cuban tried to get in close. Romero was able to create a scramble on another takedown attempt, as well as land a pair of glancing blows, but it was not enough to win the round.
It was pretty clear that Romero was down big on the judges scorecards heading into the fifth and final frame. But, it was also clear that he basically conserved all his energy for the final five minutes. His output increased, but certainly not to the level of someone who shadowboxed for 20 minutes, hoping to steal a title in the final minutes. It was a really weird fight, where Romero only showed any sort of fire or emotion until after the final bell.
Adesanya was awarded the decision, but after an explosive co-main event that tallied about one million combined strikes, this main event just fell really, really flat.
Remember that MMAmania.com 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.