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Israel Adesanya threatens to fight Darren Till or Jared Cannonier if Yoel Romero misses weight

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UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero: Press Conference Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya said he’ll “probably” deny Yoel Romero a second title fight in the event the challenger misses weight for UFC 248.

Adesanya threatened to call up contenders Darren Till or Jared Cannonier if Romero can’t hit the 185-pound mark for the third time in his UFC career.

”Because f*ck all that,” Adesanya said during a press conference held in his native New Zealand for the March 7 pay-per-view event. ”He’s a guy who’s disrespected the sport.”

The champ, dressed in shorts and a dark green fur-lined jacket, called Romero’s weight issues one of several “tactics” to not play fair, including “USADA, “Stoolgate,” and grabbing the fence.

But a weight miss would “really piss me off,” Adesanya said, because it would cost him a shot at a ruby that the UFC puts on champions’ belts for every successful title defense.

”I’m ready for Darren Till or Jared Cannonier to jump in,” he said.

Adesanya blasted Romero for his actions leading up to his most recent win, a knockout of ex-champ Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. Adesanya accused the Cuban fighter of intentionally trying not to make weight for the bout to have an advantage.

”He had probably another two hours to try and make the weight...and decided not to make the weight,” the champ said. “You know why? I’ll take the fine, I’ll take, I think, the deduction of the point, but I won’t dehydrate myself to the point where I won’t be able to fight. That way, he gets to go out there, knock out Rockhold, and then still goes to fight for the f*cking belt, and not win. Yeah, they have tactics that they have in place to have a step ahead.”

Romero, present at the press conference via a long-delayed video feed, offered little defense as Adesanya peppered him with insults and accusations.

Adesanya said Romero’s “gas tank is on ‘e’ the way he’s sitting down there” and would be in for a rude surprise if he tried to wrestle his way to victory.

”When I sprawl, my nuts are going to be on the back of his head,” Adesanya said. “I’ll push his head down and smack him in the face with an uppercut.”

Not incidentally, wrestling was one of the reasons Adesanya said he chose Romero as his next title defense.

”He’s the guy that no one wants to fight,” the champ said. “He’s the oogy-boogeyman. Even Darren Till. ‘Oh, I’ll fight anyone except Yoel.’ Like, why? I’ve seen him get rocked. I’ve seen him get stopped. I’ve seen him cry. I’ll make him cry.

”He’s human like everyone else. Everyone likes to make this myth like, he’s like kicking steel; you can hit him and he doesn’t fall. I’ll touch him enough times that eventually, he’ll crumble like the Twin Towers.”

Hearing groans in the audience, Adesanya added, “Too soon?”

It was the only moment the crowd in Auckland wasn’t eating out of his hand. Several fans used the Q&A to tout his longtime gym, City Kickboxing, and others joined in by jabbing Romero about his translator, with one asking if he’d be around for “comedic effect.”

Adesanya knew how to play to the audience, and he offered a confident vision for the result of the fight – if Romero did his part at the scale.

”I want five-nil,” he said. “I want a washout. I want a clean sleep, kind of like what I did with Brad Tavares. But if he dies, he dies. It’s not really my problem.”