The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 248 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
UFC 248 on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas showcased two Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders on the brink of mainstream stardom. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faced off with former Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero in the headliner, while women’s strawweight titlist Weili Zhang went to war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event.
Adesanya-Romero left a lot to be desired, as both men were tentative and engaged in a low-output affair that saw “The Last Stylebender” retain his 185-pound crown with a unanimous decision. Champion and challenger pointed the blame at one another, with criticism of their efforts building by the minute.
“I was hoping he would be more like my opponents of the past, like Kelvn [Gastelum] and Robert [Whittaker], who would actually bring the fight,” Adasanya said during the ESPN+ post-fight show. “Anderson [Silva], who is a counterfighter, still brought the fight and he is the same age as him, so I don’t know what his excuse is then. He can try and think he won that fight. You didn’t do anything, boy. It takes two to tango. I was the one probing, trying to draw reactions, so to me, I was pressing the action. He was doing nothing.”
Romero, who now finds himself on a three-fight losing streak, believes it was the champion who ran away from him and decided not to entertain the fans.
“It is impossible to fight against a ghost,” Romero said through an interpreter. “I’m going to start training for track or cross-country—because he is a cross-country and a track star—so I can catch up to his sport. I didn’t feel frustrated. I feel ashamed for the fans. I feel like whoever runs the fastest is the winner.”
UFC President Dana White echoed Adesanya’s sentiments when asked who was at fault for the lackluster encounter.
“Yoel Romero … I expected to come out tonight like a bat out of hell,” White said. “This was his last opportunity at a title shot, and he didn’t take it. I was shocked at the way he fought tonight.”
The significant strike totals between the two reveal a fight that was close from a statistical standpoint, with Adesanya outlanding his counterpart by a 48-40 margin. While some observers felt Romero deserved the nod, the champion’s leg attacks were impossible to ignore and likely provided the City Kickboxing standout with the advantage he needed.
“I took his best shot. He didn’t do nothing with it,” Adesanya said. “I never got hurt in this fight at all. I hurt his leg. I made his leg black, purple, blue and whatever else color is on the rainbow. It was just a weird game because he wasn’t trying to fight.”
Afterward, Adesanya shifted his focus to the undefeated Paulo Henrique Costa, the man who, barring any unforeseen setbacks, will challenge him later this year.
“I know that ‘Borrachinha’ is going to bring the fight,” he said. “I am looking forward to that definitely.” While Adesanya was complimentary of the No. 1 contender, Costa did not reciprocate when he spoke to the media after the event. He has traded verbal barbs with Adesanya on social media in recent months.
“That fight was a s--- fight,” Costa told ESPN. “I knew Adesanya is afraid. He is afraid to fight big guys, against powerful guys like [Yoel] Romero, me and Jon Jones. I will destroy him. I will hit him so badly. He will cry in the cage.”
While the main event disappointed the vast majority of onlookers, the co-headliner delivered a fight for the ages, as Zhang edged Jedrzejczyk in a back-and-forth affair that many hailed as the greatest female fight of all-time. Neither woman was available to speak after the epic battle, as they were transported to the hospital for treatment. Zhang on Sunday broke her silence on social media.
“I respect each of my opponents,” Zhang wrote on Instagram. “Other people’s failure will not make me happy. My confidence is built on my training and my team. @JoannaJedrzjczyk is a very powerful martial artist. In the end the octagon does not need garbage, we worked together and the battle was great.”
Before the event, White sounded like something of a fortuneteller, as he told the media Zhang-Jedrzejczyk was the fight for which he was most excited and that he expected an absolute barnburner.
“I knew that fight was going to be incredible,” White said. “Both of these women are incredibly talented, both incredibly hungry. Both want that belt. I am really happy for both of them, proud of them. It’s the ‘Fight of the Year.’”