OPINION: UFC 248: Adesanya vs Romero preview

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Israel Adesanya undertakes the first defense of his middleweight title belt against No. 3 contender Yoel Romero this Saturday night. They meet as the main event of UFC 248 under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

The Last Stylebender overcame champion Robert Whittaker in his last contest to obtain the middleweight title belt, having previously held the interim belt going into the title fight. The Australian was stopped in the second round via TKO, losing the belt in his backyard of Australia to the New Zealander Adesanya.

Adesanya looked dominant throughout the fight, rarely looking puzzled by the thought of it being the first title fight of his UFC career. Robert Whittaker was saved by the bell in the first round in what could have been a first-round knockout having been struck to the canvas, the bell saving the Australian from receiving more punishment and an early stoppage to the fight.

Yoel Romero has previously lost to Robert Whittaker via decision in 2018, leaving a question mark to whether the Cuban is deserving of his chance at a title shot. With Romero also having lost his two previous bouts including his loss to Robert Whittaker.

The Soldier of God obtaining his shot at the title due to number two ranked middleweight Paulo Costa recovering from surgery he had on his bicep back in October. The Cuban does obtain what many believe could be the downfall of The Last Stylebender, a wrestler who is an accurate striker and with his power could cause the opponent all kinds of danger.

The Nigerian born fighter remains undefeated following his rise to the top of the middleweight division, and Saturday’s main event will be the first defense of his title since his crowning.

The story of Adesanya is remarkable having only arrived on the UFC front little over two years ago, he has already become one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts. Overcoming his idol Anderson Silva via unanimous decision, his first true test against a great of the sport which showcased his true talent on a global scale. He then faced Kevin Gastelum which proved to be his toughest challenge to date, going five rounds against the American earning the interim title in what was an incredibly close fight with all three judges having the fight tied going into the last round. Adesanya even looked hurt at times, yet overcoming this adversity made his win even more impressive. The fight had everything, and even won fight of the year for 2019.

How could it go?

Yoel Romero has only ever lost one fight via KO/TKO in his entire career and that was before he signed to the UFC. His other three losses being in way of decision against challenging opponents in Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker (twice). The Cuban has won 11 of his 13 fight victories via TKO/KO showcasing the kind of challenge facing Adesanya in which should the Cuban become victorious it will most likely be through stoppage.

Meanwhile, Adesanya has never lost a fight. Therefore, it is difficult to predict how Romero may potentially win. It is highly unlikely that Romero will be able to outscore the newly crowned champion over five rounds. For this reason, the Cuban will mainly be looking to shock Adesanya with his power in what will most likely be his only way to overwhelm him and potentially earn the middleweight title.

Adesanya will be keen on continuing to cement his legacy across the middleweight division, a first KO/TKO loss on Romero’s UFC record would be another impressive achievement for the 30-year-old. Although, it may take five championship rounds for him to retain his title for the first time with the 42-year-old clearly being no pushover. Keeping a distance between him and Romero with his significant reach and height advantage allowing him to showcase his kickboxing ability could be key to how the fight develops. The champion is a clear favorite to win, with decision being the most likely route against a fierce challenger who has no history of losing via knockout in the UFC. If not having ended the fight earlier as many are expecting from the newly crowned champion.

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