LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: (L-R) Opponents Israel Adesanya of Nigeria and Yoel Romero of Cuba … [+]
Everyone can take a deep breath. Yoel Romero made weight on Friday and the UFC 248 main event is intact. It was close but the challenger weighed in at 185 pounds on Friday, but he had to strip down to make the middleweight limit.
UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya will make the first defense of his title against Romero on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Adesanya won the title by second-round KO of Robert Whittaker in October 2019 at UFC 243.
The champion is favored to win the main event, per OddsShark.
- Israel Adesanya -280
- Yoel Romero +220
Adesanya is one of the UFC’s brightest young stars, though he is 30 years old, and his name is in the mix to face a variety of high-profile opponents–including all-time great UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
However, a win over Romero is essential to keep the ball rolling and the title around his waist.
Romero is getting a rare opportunity. Despite coming off back-to-back losses to Paulo Costa and Whittaker via controversial decisions, he is getting a crack at the 185-pound title. Romero engaged in exciting slugfests with Costa and Whittaker but came out on the short end of the stick in both fights, as he did against the latter in their initial meeting.
Romero has had several opportunities to win some form of the UFC Middleweight title in the past, but he has either lost to Whittaker or failed to make weight, as he did ahead of knocking out Luke Rockhold, and thus squandered an opportunity to capture interim gold.
As it stands, he is arguably the best middleweight in UFC history to never win a title with the promotion.
Four of the five combat sports journalists for CBS Sports like Adesanya to retain his title. The only one who favors Romero is Matthew Coca.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Yoel Romero of Cuba poses on the scale during the UFC 248 weigh-in at … [+]
Power, power, power, power! Romero is the most powerful fighter Adesanya has ever faced. He’s also likely the best wrestler that Adesanya has ever faced. Kelvin Gastelum was unsuccessful trying to takedown Adesanya, but Romero is a different beast. If Romero uses his takedowns or connects with a big shot, I’m not sure Adesanya will be able to withstand that.
Seven of nine members of Bloody Elbow like Adesanya. BE’s Zane Simon wrote:
It’s absolutely fascinating to me that Adesanya has the edge on knockdown ratio, as well expected edges in volume and accuracy for striking. Romero is terribly dangerous, and tends to build toward massive 3rd rounds. But against fighters tough enough to ride out his damage, he has had some trouble getting clear, definitive wins. Adesanya has been KO’d once before, in kickboxing, by a cleaner puncher, but I don’t think I can just follow that loss to say Romero will reproduce it. For the most part, if Romero doesn’t land a perfect shot to put someone out, he has trouble following up with clean punches to end the bout. Even if he hurts Adesanya bad, I think Izzy can ride the damage out and come back to win the fight.
Of 14 MMA Junkie writers, all but three of them have Adesanya winning. However, the MMA Junkie community is a little more split. Fifty-four percent of the readers favor Adesanya with 46 percent liking Romero.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 06: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria poses on the scale during the UFC 248 … [+]
It’s tempting to go against the grain here and to pick Romero.
However, because of the 12-year age gap, Romero’s struggles to make weight on Friday, the size disadvantage, Adesanya’s spatial awareness, and the challenger’s tendency to tire in five-round fights, I have to go with the champion to retain his title.
That said, Romero’s ability to change things with one strike cannot be overstated. Still, Adesanya by decision is the pick.