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wandshogun09

UFC 248: Adesanya vs Romero - Mar 7 🇺🇸

Who wins and how?   

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Saturday 7th March in Sin City with this beauty of a card...

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PPV MAIN CARD
Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero - Middleweight Title

Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk - Strawweight Title

Beneil Dariush vs Drakkar Klose

Neil Magny vs Li Jingliang 

Alex Oliveira vs Max Griffin
 

ESPN PRELIMS
Sean O’Malley vs Jose Alberto Quiñónez

Mark Madsen vs Austin Hubbard

Rodolfo Vieira vs Saparbek Safarov 

Deron Winn vs Gerald Meerschaert
 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Polyana Viana vs Emily Whitmire 

Movsar Evloev vs Jamall Emmers

Guido Cannetti vs Danaa Batgerel 

 

OK, now we’re cooking! The first two PPVs of 2020 have been weak on paper. They’ve basically relied on Conor McGregor and Jon Jones to carry those cards singlehandedly. This is pretty stacked though. With that one-two punch of title fights, they could’ve put almost anything on the undercard and I wouldn’t mind. But I’m genuinely interested in nearly every single fight to some degree there. 

 

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Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero tops the bill. Amazing fight. Odd timing really with Romero coming off back-to-back losses but whatever. At a time when we’re seeing YouTubers on Matchroom Boxing cards and seeing Colby Covington calling out 50 Cent...this is fuck all, is it?

For whatever it’s worth, Romero’s last two fights were highly debatable decision losses. I had him winning the Whittaker rematch. Not sure how I had the Costa fight scored but a lot of people had Yoel winning that one as well. Still, they’re officially down as losses. I actually don’t care though. Usually I would say it’s bollocks but Costa was next in line and he’s injured. So it kind of makes sense to have the guy who arguably beat him step in. Aside from Jared Cannonier, who else is there who’s ready now? Plus Adesanya was pushing hard for this Yoel fight. I’m not into champions picking and choosing their challengers. I think the champ should fight whoever is next in line. But in this case, it’s not exactly like he’s trying to get an easy or favourable matchup. He’s choosing a killer who nobody in their right mind would want to fight.

“He’ll lull you into a false sense of security where you’ll feel like you can kind of coast or you’re in control, and he’ll just explode. So, you have to stay on with him at all points. You can’t just drift off, you can’t just coast in your mind. But also, I think his wrestling should be his strong suit because he’s an Olympian and all this shit. But he rarely ever uses it. I’m hoping he uses it in this fight. I want to see what that wrestling’s about.

They’re hoping he’s the one to take me out because, from the get-go, from my first UFC fight, all they ever said was, ‘Feed him to Romero’ and ‘He’ll take him down and it’s over’. He’s the guy that scares a lot of people and no-one’s asked to fight him, so I’m doing something different.” - Israel Adesanya

Of course, Adesanya is coming off a spectacular 2019. He beat Anderson Silva in February, which was big for him mentally as he said he kind of idolised Anderson coming up. Then he beat Kelvin Gastelum in that epic FOTY in April. Then he capped the year off by winning the title from Robert Whittaker in Melbourne in October.

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A massive year. The biggest. Beat a legend, had the FOTY, became undisputed champion of the world. It doesn’t really get any better than that. He’s still perfect in his MMA career. 18-0 undefeated. That plus a 75-5 Kickboxing record. All that experience and he’s still only 30 years old. He could potentially have another good 5-10 years in him. He’s in an incredible position to really carve out a brilliant legacy and become a huge star. And whether you like him or not, he’s got a unique style and swagger and he seems authentic with it. You look at stuff like his entrance for the Whittaker fight. Nobody is doing shite like that in MMA.

He’s a showman and, frankly, there aren’t enough of them in combat sports these days. It wasn’t as good as Prince Naz’s entrances back in the 90s but that’s what it immediately reminded me of watching live.

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Yoel Romero doesn’t have the unbeaten record or the gift of gab. But his Cuban/broken English interviews are classic. Like a cross between Marlon Brando playing Don Corleone in The Godfather and the Iron Sheik a few somas deep in a shoot interview. And I think he’d give Adesanya a run for his money on any dance floor as well.

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Love the bloke. He’s a treasure. Probably one of my top 2 or 3 current favourite fighters. In the cage and as a personality. And he’s an absolute freak. He’ll be 43 years old in April, for fuck’s sake. Yet physique-wise and athletically, there aren’t many on the roster who can fuck with him. He’s one of the best amateur wrestlers to ever compete in the UFC. Silver medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games, a shitload of medals in other competitions. He has wins over 3 different Olympic gold medalists, including multiple victories over Cael Sanderson who was one of the best American amateur wrestlers of all time.

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Yoel Romero was always an animal.

Side note - The guy next to him there is Adam Saitiev. He’s the man who stopped Yoel from taking the gold in 2000.

Anyway, Yoel didn’t get into MMA until 2009, at the age of 32. But things moved quickly for him. He won his debut by knockout in 48 seconds. At just 4-0 he entered the Strikeforce cage and lost his debut to Rafael Cavalcante. Then the UFC took over Strikeforce and the rest was history. At 4-1 and 36 years old, Yoel Romero was making his UFC debut. By this point he’d had a few years’ training at American Top Team under his belt. And being such a stellar athlete, he’d adjusted well. He won his next 8 fights in a row, 6 by knockout. And among his victims were Lyoto Machida, Derek Brunson and Tim Kennedy. But none were more breathtaking and scary than the night he nearly flying kneed Chris Weidman’s head into the 15th row at Madison Square Garden...

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Even more surreal was seeing Madonna, of all people, cheering the carnage on from cageside.

It’s mad to think, Romero is 1-3 in his last 4 fights. As good as he looked in those 3 losses, they’re still 3 losses. But yeah. Sod it. There’s a reason the booking of this fight has barely received any backlash and that’s because it’s a fucking fantastic and fascinating matchup. How could you complain about getting to see a fight like this?

Christ almighty is it March yet?

I like Adesanya a lot and I know there’s more upside to him winning. I’d probably be pulling for him against anyone else right now. But fuck it, I really hope Romero a) makes weight, b) takes Izzy’s head off and c) finally wins that UFC belt. It’s been a long time coming and he’s way too good to retire without ever winning UFC gold. I’d love to see it. Adesanya’s got time to rebound and win it back down the line. But surely at 43, this is Yoel’s last bite at the cherry? He’s freakish and nutty enough that I could see him fighting into his 50s. But chances are, he’s not getting too many more opportunities like this. Team Romero here.

 

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Zhang Weili vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk co-headlines. Really looking forward to this fight. Both have something to prove here. Zhang is looking to solidify herself as the champ and Joanna wants to regain that top spot she had for so long and prove she’s far from done.

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Joanna Jedrzejczyk came into the UFC in 2014 as an unbeaten 6-0 prospect. A good signing but nothing more. No hype, no promotion. Her first two UFC fights were on the prelims. But after beating Cláudia Gadelha who was thought to be the next challenger for the Strawweight title, Joanna got the shot. At UFC 185 in March 2015, she took on the division’s first champ Carla Esparza. It was thought going in that Esparza’s smothering wrestling game would probably be too much for the Polish striker to overcome.

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Wrong. Joanna obliterated Esparza in two rounds in one of most one-sided title changes you’ll ever see. Joanna Champion had arrived.

From there she went on a reign of terror. Jessica Penne, Valerie Létourneau, Cláudia Gadelha again, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Andrade all fell short. By late 2017, it was hard to see who could dethrone Double J. At 14-0, she’d almost cleaned out the 115lbs division. Then came those back-to-back losses to Rose Namajunas. She bounced around after that. Beat Tecia Torres, it was a lacklustre fight but it put her back in the win column. Then she moved up to challenge Valentina Shevchenko at Flyweight and got dominated for 5 rounds. In October though, she got back on track, beating Michelle Waterson by a clear cut decision. It was easily the best she’s looked since the losses to Rose. One of her better all-round performances in years.

In the meantime though, a new force had emerged in the Strawweight ranks.

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Zhang Weili made her UFC debut in August 2018. She already had a fairly impressive 16-1 record and hadn’t lost since her MMA debut. Within about 8 months, she’d racked up 3 wins in the Octagon including a first round submission over Jessica Aguilar and a comfy points win over Tecia Torres. According to Dana White, at this point he was finding it difficult to find anyone who fancied fighting Zhang. But with the UFC coming to China in August 2019, it was a no brainer to pull the trigger on giving her a crack at the belt.

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She took on Jessica Andrade, who had won the belt from Namajunas in May and was on a hell of a run herself. This would be the first real big test for Zhang.

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She passed with flying colours. Andrade did what Andrade does and bullrushed in. Only to be met with a barrage of punches, elbows and knees in close. The whole thing lasted 42 seconds. Zhang was the new champ. And not only that, she made history as the first EVER Chinese fighter to hold UFC gold.

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Initially, Zhang expressed a lack of interest in Jedrzejczyk as a challenger.

“Joanna, I don’t think she’s the fighter she used to be. I’m not very interested. I want to fight the best. I think maybe Rose Namajunas is a good choice. If I had the chance, I’d like to move up the weight class and fight the best. And right now Valentina is one of the best.” - Zhang Weili

There was a bit of a polite back and forth between her and Valentina Shevchenko. But as much as I’d love to see that fight somewhere down the line, I’m glad they didn’t just jump on that. Zhang’s only just won the belt at 115, it’d be nice to see her defend it before rushing up to 125 to fight Shevchenko. These ‘superfights’ are all well and good but they always end up holding up one division and I’m really not a fan of that. Zhang vs Shev is definitely one to keep an eye on though if they both win their upcoming fights.

This Zhang vs Joanna buildup has gotten a bit ugly though. I’ve been a big fan of Joanna but she doesn’t half make it difficult to root for her at times. She posted this on social media recently...

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Clearly a reference to the Coronavirus. Not in the best taste. Zhang understandably wasn’t amused by it.

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It’s not a good look. Joanna deleted it and kind of apologised but it was already out there by that point.

Regardless, this is a great fight. I’m seeing a lot of people predicting Zhang will smash Joanna here. Not sure about that. As good as Zhang has looked, we really haven’t seen much of her against top level opposition. The Andrade fight didn’t even go a minute. And her best win before that was Tecia Torres. Joanna might’ve lost a bit of her aura but she’s still an elite fighter. I wouldn’t assume a Zhang win is a foregone conclusion at all. It’s what makes it such an interesting fight. Joanna isn’t going to just charge at Zhang like Andrade did. I think this fight is going to tell us a lot more about Zhang as a fighter.

 

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Beneil Dariush vs Drakkar Klose has been bumped up to the PPV due to the Brunson vs Shahbazyan fight being moved to another card. Might seem a curious choice at first glance but this could well be a bit of a sleeper on this card. Both are pretty entertaining to watch despite the complete lack of fanfare. Dariush is Iranian, 30 years old, BJJ black-belt. He’s got some nice wins on his resume over Jim Miller, Michael Johnson and Carlos Diego Ferreira. Seems a good guy too. Always liked Dariush. Klose, not so much. Get a bit of a dickhead vibe off him. He’s decent though and has his own solid wins over Bobby Green, Lando Vannata and Marc Diakiese. Klose also had a cracking fight with Christos Giagos on the UFC 241 prelims that I’d highly recommend watching if you didn’t see it. It got lost in the talk of DC vs Stipe, Diaz vs Pettis etc but it was a corker. Should be a fun one this.

 

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Neil Magny vs Li Jingliang is a decent enough fight. We haven’t seen Magny since late 2018 when he got stopped by Santiago Ponzinibbio. That’s because he’s been on a USADA suspension. He’d had a hot and cold career before that but did have wins over Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Hector Lombard and even a close decision over Kelvin Gastelum. But losses scattered in amongst them held him back and then getting popped for PEDs really fucked it. Jingliang is alright. 17-5 record. Never been massively impressed by him but he’s on a good little 3 fight streak at the moment. He surprised me by beating Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos on the China show in August.

 

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Alex Oliveira vs Max Griffin is currently slated to kick off the main card. Could be good. I think Cowboy Oliveira seems a bit of a cock, and if that domestic abuse story was true that confirms it. He’s usually in good scraps though. He’s coming off 3 consecutive losses now though so he badly needs to make something happen here. Griffin is usually a decent watch himself. Loved his undercard fight with Thiago Alves last year on whatever card that was on. Results haven’t gone his way much recently either though. The loser of this could possibly be looking at their P45.

 

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Sean O’Malley vs José Alberto Quiñónez should be good. We haven’t seen O’Malley in nearly 2 years. He’s 10-0 and came into the UFC with some hype but in beating Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 222, he injured his leg and had to do the post-fight Rogan interview lying down in the Octagon. He was actually meant to fight Quiñónez on the Khabib vs McGregor undercard but he got done by USADA. Hopefully all that’s done now and he can crack on with his career. Despite the time out he’s still only 25 so he’s got time. Quiñónez is 8-3 and was on a solid little win streak before Nathaniel Wood submitted him last year. It’s a fight I’d expect O’Malley to win but should be entertaining while it lasts.

 

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Mark Madsen vs Austin Hubbard then. This is all about Madsen. He’s a guy a lot of people have tipped to do big things. He won Olympic silver in Rio in 2016 in Greco-Roman wrestling. In MMA he’s undefeated at 9-0 with 6 finishes. Made his UFC debut in September on the Copenhagen card and just pissed right through Danilo Belluardo in about a minute. He looked a star that night. Whether that’s just because he’s Danish and the show was in Denmark, or maybe Belluardo was just a jabroni, I don’t know. But he looked the dog’s bollocks. He’s 35 now so probably doesn’t have bags of time. Unless he’s another Yoel Romero type. He’ll want to get the ball rolling. If he’s anything special then Hubbard is a guy he really shouldn’t be having too much of an issue with. He’s 11-3 and nothing at all stands out about him.

 

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Rodolfo Vieira vs Saparbek Safarov is a fight worth checking out, purely to see Vieira back in action. He’s a BJJ black-belt and 4 time BJJ world champion. Trains at ATT, 6-0 in MMA now, all finishes. He made his Octagon debut in August on the Uruguay card and submitted Oskar Piechota. I like the little I’ve seen of him so far. Always fun seeing elite grapplers make the transition into MMA. Safarov probably gets throttled here. He’s not much good really. Tough bastard but not all that skilled. Most likely a showcase for Vieira but you never know.

 

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Deron Winn vs Gerald Meerschaert is another interesting fight on a card full of them. I like this matchup a lot actually. Winn is a teammate and friend of Daniel Cormier at AKA. He’s 6-1 now, having suffered his first defeat by split decision to Darren Stewart last time out. Before that he’d won his UFC debut against Eric Spicely in a really exciting brawl. And he beat Tom Lawlor on that dreaded Chuck vs Tito 3 card. Meerschaert is the much more experienced guy at 29-12. He’s a Duke Roufus guy, a BJJ black-belt and has been in with the likes of Thiago Santos and Jack Hermansson. He’s no world beater but definitely a tricky fight for Winn on the rebound from his first loss.

 

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Polyana Viana vs Emily Whitmire isn’t setting the world alight. I’ve liked Viana ever since that story came out about that guy trying to mug her in Brazil and she beat the fuck out of him. But truth be told, she’s not that good. She’s 10-4 now and coming off 3 losses in a row. She got subbed in a minute last time out. If she loses another one here, I can see that being it for her in the UFC. Whitmire isn’t the best either though. She’s 4-3 and has lost decisively any time she’s come up against anyone decent. I can see the loser being gone. Especially with it being Strawweight which is probably the one women’s division that they can afford to trim the dead wood from.

 

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Movsar Evloev vs Jamall Emmers is a fight where I’m not really familiar with either guy. I’ve barely seen Evloev and I’ve never seen Emmers. Might end up being a bit of a darkhorse fight though. Evloev looks solid. He’s 12-0 with 7 finishes and beat Enrique Barzola in his last outing. He’s only 25 years old. Could have a bright future. Emmers is stepping in for Douglas Silva De Andrade here. He’s making his UFC debut, 17-4 record. He must have something about him because he’s got a 2017 win over Cory Sandhagen on his record as well as wins over Diaz brothers teammate Chris Avila and TUFer Jay Cucciniello.

 

And that’s your lot.

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See you soon, boy! 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Romero fights in bursts. Nevertheless, he's very good at setting traps for his opponents, which means his flurries can be deadly. 

I still think Adesanya wins a decision, but he will probably have to go through some dodgy moments along the way. 

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Glad to see O'Malley back. His style reminds me of one of my boxing favourites, Thomas Hearns. He uses his rangy build to great effect in very similar ways. 

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4 minutes ago, TildeGuy~! said:

Looking forward to Zhang absolutely sparking Joanna 

I won’t be mad at that if it happens. Don’t really get why people seem so confident it happens though. Like I said, as nice a streak as she’s on, we just haven’t seen enough of Zhang against top opposition for me to confidently predict her to just walk through Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Maybe she is that good, or maybe Andrade played right into her hands (and knees). But smashing Andrade, as impressive as that was, doesn’t mean she just kills everyone now. 

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What I'm particularly interested in about Zhang is getting a further peek at how Sanda stacks up in MMA competition. Given the comparative paucity of Chinese fighters in the UFC, we only really had Cung Le as an elite-ish level exponent, and he got to MMA relatively late. 

So far, there seems to have emerged two discrete spheres of training: Western fighters tend generally to train in a combination of boxing or kickboxing, amateur/Greco-Roman wrestling, and Brazilian Ju-Jutsu (or, on rare occasions, judo). You get the odd exception with guys like Machida whose focus is on karate, Rousey and her judo, or Barnett with catch wrestling, but even they trained in those disciplines. Then you get the Russians with their combat sambo and amateur wrestling - I could be wrong, but I haven't seen much of the BJJ from them; from what I understand, sambo's based in more classical Japanese Ju-Jutsu. 

It'd be good to see if there emerges a Chinese sphere based on Sanda and Sanshou, with Kung Fu and Wushu influences.

EDIT: Turns out Zhang also trained in Shuai Jiao, Chinese wrestling. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to Greco/amateur.

Edited by Carbomb

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5 hours ago, Carbomb said:

What I'm particularly interested in about Zhang is getting a further peek at how Sanda stacks up in MMA competition. Given the comparative paucity of Chinese fighters in the UFC, we only really had Cung Le as an elite-ish level exponent, and he got to MMA relatively late. 

So far, there seems to have emerged two discrete spheres of training: Western fighters tend generally to train in a combination of boxing or kickboxing, amateur/Greco-Roman wrestling, and Brazilian Ju-Jutsu (or, on rare occasions, judo). You get the odd exception with guys like Machida whose focus is on karate, Rousey and her judo, or Barnett with catch wrestling, but even they trained in those disciplines. Then you get the Russians with their combat sambo and amateur wrestling - I could be wrong, but I haven't seen much of the BJJ from them; from what I understand, sambo's based in more classical Japanese Ju-Jutsu. 

It'd be good to see if there emerges a Chinese sphere based on Sanda and Sanshou, with Kung Fu and Wushu influences.

EDIT: Turns out Zhang also trained in Shuai Jiao, Chinese wrestling. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to Greco/amateur.

 

Its interesting if Xu Xiaodong kicking the shit out of old school martial arts guys over there has helped MMA or hurt it. China is a huge untapped market if they can get past the old "traditional Martial Arts are the best". Be awesome if its a woman to do it.

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Yeah, brilliant stuff from Yoel. The guy is out of his god damn mind.

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Yoel is awesome. And this should be an incredible fight. Logic says that the younger fighter continues his streak, but I can't shake this feeling that Romero manages to catch him with that Gay Jesus power. The rules of aging don't seem to apply to the Soldier of God. As much as I don't think Yoel won either of his last 2 fights that people cry "robbery" over- funnily enough, despite my fandom/bias, I think he has a much better argument for the Whittaker fight over the Costa fight- he still looked fantastic in both fights for the most part.

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Looking like Jared Cannonier vs Darren Till is happening. At least, Till’s giving that impression on Twitter. I’m all in for this. 

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