UFC 248 was a night of firsts for both Israel Adesanya and Weili Zhang. Both champions were able to retain their titles and one was able to deliver a little more than the other. For one challenger’s last possible shot, they did not make the most of it, while the other did. But there’s more than title fights to take away from UFC 248.
Early in the week fans were concerned about an image of Israel Adesanya that he may have had a staph infection that could have had him removed from his scheduled first title defense. He confirmed to ESPN that it was “just a scratch” and no one should worry. While that laid that issue to rest, Romero came to Vegas weighing 193 pounds so fans had to wait until Friday to see if he would eventually make weight, which he did.
Romero’s last chance?
While in the midst of fight week it’s easy to focus on the sitting champion, Romero seemed more focused and intent than usual. The media attention he received for UFC 248 seemed different than his other title shots. Perhaps his age was a factor but regardless of what drove him to the first bell of the main event, at 42 years old it is hard to fault him for not delivering the same fights he gave Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa.
Emily Whitmire versus Polyana Viana was removed from the card last minute according to Jon Anik when the early Fight Pass prelims started. Viana had broken the news earlier in the day that Whitmire was rushed to the hospital. Whitmire had missed weight and was going to forfeit 20% of her purse to Viana but apparently the cut was harder than it seemed.
Remember the name
Danaa Batgerel scored a beautiful first-round knockout against Guido Cannetti in the first fight of the night. The bout was on the UFC Fight Pass prelims and may have been missed but chances are, fans will see Batgerel again soon and bumped up on the next event he’s booked.
They are women, hear them roar
Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk probably fought the greatest fight ever in women’s mixed martial arts. The fact that this was the co-main event of the March pay-per-view, which is also women’s history month makes it almost criminal that the war that these women fought was not the main event. Fighting to a split decision may mean we see these two in the cage again, and it should be the main event.
Playing it safe
Adesanya got booed for not engaging Romero the way he has engaged other opponents. While that is not entertaining, fans should remember in the hurt business, when a title is won the goal is to keep it as long as you can. Romero’s a dangerous fighter and this being Adesanya’s first title defense, it could still be a learning process for him too as well as preserving the gold around his waist. It’s a game of chess, not checkers and there are a lot of ways to win.
All that’s left is Paulo Costa
Costa was sitting cageside for the fight, he felt neither man delivered and it might be hard to argue with him. Even during the post-fight presser UFC President Dana White said he believes that Costa will do the complete opposite of what either man did in the main event. Costa seemed to promise the same to the media at the post-fight press conference. But with events booked until July, fans might have to wait until the Fall or the end of the year to see what’s next at middleweight.
UFC 248 made for a solid card, even with a lackluster main event. With the third pay-per-view out of the way for 2020 and Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson for UFC 249, so far the UFC is not doing too bad.
What did you take away from the event?