UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero (TV: ESPN, ESPN + PPV)
Saturday, March 7th, Prelims 8: 00 PM ET ESPN, Main Card 10:00 PM ET ESPN + PPV, T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Women’s Strawweight Title Fight: Zhang Weili (20-1) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3)
Fight odds: Zhang Weili -230 Joanna Jedrzejczyk +185
Middleweight Title Fight: Israel Adesanya (18-0) vs. Yoel Romero (13-4)
Fight odds: Israel Adesanya -280 Yoel Romero +230
UFC 248 will be live from Vegas with two Title fights on this first Saturday in March. This will be a huge night for the UFC as both men’s and women’s MMA will be featured as two of the biggest rising stars in the sport take center stage. In the Main Event, Israel Adesanya will take on UFC veteran Yoel Romero to defend his Middleweight Title (185 lbs.). In the Co-Main Event, Zhang Weili will take on Joanna Jedrzejczyk to defend her Strawweight Title (115 lbs.). Both champions should retain their Titles against older challengers, as Romero is 12 years older than Adesanya and Joanna is 2 years older than Weili.
Weili should have the speed, power and wrestling advantages against Joanna. Joanna should have the experience, reach, height and kicking advantages against Weili. Weili moves differently than most fighters and often has the speed advantage against her opponents. The way she blasted through former champion, Jessica Andrade in a fight that only lasted 42 seconds made Weili an instant star and one of the best woman fighters in the world. Weili used excellent clinch work and vicious knees and elbows to quickly put an end to the fight. Joanna is 32, 5’6 and 115 lbs. with a 65.5 inch reach. Weili is 30, 5’4 and 115 lbs. with a 63 inch reach. Weili will have to deal with a height deficit as Joanna is quite tall, at 5’6 for the 115 pound weight class. Joanna will want to keep this fight on the outside and attempt to keep the charging Weili at bay. Joanna will need to do this by working behind her jab and weakening the legs and body of Weili with well placed kicks.
However, Weili should be able to land some takedowns on Joanna because of her excellent wresting fundamentals as 7 of her 20 wins have come by submission. Weili will also have the power and explosiveness advantages as her unorthodox movements make her difficult to predict in terms of striking. Joanna has been in the octagon against some great fighters n Valentina Shevchenko, Rose Namajunas twice, Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. While Joanna did lose to Shevchenko and Namajunas, she still has the dearth of experience to draw on having competed against the best in the sport. Joanna is an excellent kick-boxer that moved into MMA following an excellent kickboxing career. However, MMA is more than just striking and Weili should have the edge in the other areas of the fighting game. Nothing can truly prepare Joanna for being in the octagon against the whirling dervish that is Zhang Weili, so it should be a competitive fight. Expect Weili’s stamina advantage to show up in the championship rounds as Weili scores a 4th Round TKO to end the fight. Joanna is coming off a Unanimous Decision win over Michelle Waterson in October of 2019. Weili is coming off a 1st Round TKO win over Jessica Andrade in August of 2019.
The Main Event will feature Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya against Yoel Romeo. Adesanya is one the best strikers in the UFC and has excellent timing and power, with 14 of his 18 wins coming by knockout. Adasanya can counterpunch or fight on the front foot as he is constantly reading his opponent and adapting to the fight at hand. Romero is an excellent opponent as he has beaten some great fighters in Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza and Lyoto Machida. However, recent losses to Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa have really begun to take a toll on Romero. Romero is a mountain of muscles and one the most impressive physical specimens in MMA today. However, all the grueling fights that Romero has endured may finally start taking a toll on his 42 year old body.
Romero will have his work cut out for him trying to slow down the younger and faster Adesanya. Adesanya is 30, 6’4 and 184.5 lbs. with a 80 inch reach. Romero is 42, 6’0 and 185 lbs. with a 73.5 inch. The 4 inch height advantage for Adesanya may be too much for Romero to overcome. Adesanya should also have the speed and timing advantages as the slower Romero will likely have to chase Adesanya around the octagon as he gets picked apart with excellent counterpunching. Romero’s main path to success could be on the mat and if he is able to take Adesanya to the ground he may have more success there. But, the more likely scenario is that a majority of the fight will be on the feet in what should be an excellent and competitive bout. Romero is one of the most durable fighters in the UFC and is very tough to finish with only one loss by knockout which was back in 2011.
Even though Whittaker and Costa got the decisions against Romero they were still beaten up and effected by the striking of Romero. Romero showed great quality and a warrior mentality during those competitive fights. Expect nothing different from Romero against Adesanya, but the impeccable timing and spatial awareness of Adesanya should give him the edge for a majority of the fight. Coming from a dancing background, Adesanya employs similar movement and fluidity to his unique fighting style. Expect Adesanya to win by Unanimous Decision. Romero is coming off a Unanimous Decision loss to Paulo Costa in August of 2019. Adesanya is coming off a 2nd Round KO win over Robert Whittaker in October of 2019.