Yoel Romero and Israel Adesanya are probably just going to have to agree to disagree on who’s to blame for their fight’s lack of entertainment value.
UFC 248 in March 2020 was the promotion’s last event before the world shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. In the event’s headliner, the Middleweight crown was “fought” over between Adesanya and Romero in one of the sport’s most lackluster title tilts.
When recently reflecting on the bout, the champion, Adesanya, put the blame on his foe for making it as boring of an outing as it was. However, “The Solider of God” feels the exact opposite was true.
“The UFC was pampering him, was pampering ‘Izzy,’ and basically I guess what they wanted was for me to go running after him,” Romero told The MMA Hour. “No, I’m not going to do that. If he was intimidated and didn’t want to exchange punches with me, that’s on him, not on me. All I did was stand up in there wanting to fight like a man and exchange blows. He didn’t want to do that, that’s on him. But it could have been way more than it was.”
Oftentimes, fights with little action get referred to as “staring contests” because of how few strikes get thrown. Hilariously enough, there were literal moments in Adesanya and Romero’s fight where Romero stood completely still like a statue, personifying that phrase better than ever.
Ultimately, everyone lost that one aside from Adesanya, who earned a unanimous decision to keep his belt.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand when someone wants to fight smart,” Romero said. “If you want to get in and out, get a couple of kicks here, a couple punches there, pick your moment, that is absolutely fine. But that’s not what he did. What he did was whenever he felt like I was coming up to him, he literally just ran away.
“So there is a big difference between being a savvy fighter, picking your spots and wanting to be very specific about when you might attack somebody, and running away,” he continued. “And that’s what he was doing. And I wasn’t about to just chase him all around the octagon. That would have been ridiculous. So if he had been willing to stand up in there and fight, that would have been one thing. If he had wanted to be a smart, strategic fighter, [that would have been] another thing. But that’s not what he did. He was just running all over the place.”
Since the Adesanya loss, Romero has parted ways with UFC and competed twice in Bellator, going 1-1. He’ll look for his second consecutive win this weekend (Fri., Sept. 23, 2022) at Bellator 285 in Dublin, Ireland, versus Melvin Manhoef.