On Saturday night at UFC 248 in Las Vegas, Israel Adesanya made the first defense of his middleweight title, taking on former title challenger Yoel Romero. It was supposed to be the marquee fight of the evening; a contest between the exciting new champion and the most-feared fighter in the division. Instead, the main event turned out to be a dud with only 88 combined strikes landed between the two of them (for context, the co-main event bout between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk eclipsed that number in less than two rounds). It was almost entirely unexpected and, according to one of the men who commentated it, “just very weird”.
Speaking with Rich Eisen recently, former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who was calling the bout cageside, opined on the unusual fight that transpired on Saturday night, and likened it to a performance by one of the greatest fighters of all time, Anderson Silva.
“If you watched the fight, you saw the very first minute and a half, Yoel just kinda of stood there with his hands up,” Cormier said. “And he’s so frightening, that he almost froze Izzy without even doing or throwing anything. Honestly, it just kind of stayed that way. It was one of those fights where you kind of were anticipating the explosion, the fireworks, and it just never came. You got 25 minutes of, essentially cat-and-mouse. It was just weird.
“It reminds me of a fight way back in the day, Anderson Silva fought in Saudi Arabia and it was one of the nights that just did not turn out to be what everyone expected.
Cormier is slightly mis-remembering as “The Spider” never fought in Saudi Arabia. However, right after the middleweight king knocked out former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, he had a grudge match with jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia in Abu Dhabi, where Silva practically refused to engage Maia and Maia steadfastly refused to strike with Silva for any amount of time. It was an awful contest to watch and, in concept, it was similar to Adesanya’s bout with Romero last weekend, where the champion played it entirely safe and the challenger chose not to engage recklessly. And to Cormier, that’s what Adesanya is supposed to do as champion.
“I don’t [blame Adesanya for the lackluster fight],” Cormier said. “When you fight Yoel Romero, a guy that has knocked out so many people, a guy that has really fought in that same exact way but finds ways to end fights with one action, you cannot think that Izzy would just go in there and be reckless. I’ve never seen anyone do it. He did what he had to do. This guy’s the champion. He’s a guy that if you’re willing to engage, he’ll give you your type of fight. But Yoel Romero’s not a guy that you want to be out there being reckless with. He’s just too dangerous. The risk is not worth the danger.”
In the end, Adesanya retained his title so the event was certainly a win. However, “The Last Stylebender” is on the verge of superstardom in the UFC, with numerous people drawing comparisons to Conor McGregor’s meteoric rise. Now, in his first title defense, the first true showcase of himself as champion, Adesanya laid an egg, causing fans and media to wonder if expectations needed to be reset for Adesanya. But Cormier is not one of them. Even despite turning in such a disappointing performance last weekend, DC still believes that Adesanya has the potential to become the biggest star in the UFC.
“I think that he can be as big a star as you have in the UFC,” Cormier said. “Some guys just have it. Like you said, it just radiates off of him. You just see it. From the moment he walks to the octagon, he officially marked his territory. You saw a young kid who had never done anything, become a champion in like a year. That doesn’t happen very often in the UFC and I think this was just one of those nights. Anderson Silva, it did not really affect his legacy having that fight in Saudi Arabia and I think that’s going to be the case with Izzy. He’s just going to move forward and his next fight is guaranteed to deliver because the guy he’s fighting, Paulo Costa, has never been in a fight like you saw Izzy have last week.”
Banger. Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker expected to headline UFC San Diego.
Gatekeeper. Manager: Yoel Romero ready to return in 12 weeks, can be labeled gatekeeper for now.
Rematch. Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s head coach thought she deserved the win, welcomes immediate rematch with Zhang Weili.
Return. Stipe Miocic: Eye injury ‘getting better,’ summer return a possibility.
Headbutt. Deiveson Figueiredo reacts to Joseph Benavidez’s headbutt comments, says he ‘can’t take a punch in the face’.
UFC Fight Motion.
Top finishes of Gilbert Burns.
MixedMollyWhoppery is back again.
Jorge Masvidal’s diet.
Prelude to UFC 249.
Eurobash. Interviews with Darren Till, Petr Yan, and Pedro Carvalho.
Fights Gone By. Discussing Adesanya-Romero and Joanna’s giant head.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Walking it back.
I want to officially apologize to JPark for Saturday night, when Zombie is ready we can fight.— Brian Ortega (@BrianTcity) March 11, 2020
It appears to be on.
Thank you @stipemiocic !— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 10, 2020
This is solid from Yoel.
I understand now. Que cute. #peopleschamp https://t.co/RGSOhmL1rW— Peoples Champ (@YoelRomeroMMA) March 10, 2020
I wonder how Jay Park's record sales are doing this week?— Din Thomas (@DinThomas) March 10, 2020
I'm not a conspiracy theorist but if this video is from yesterday, why does he have such a goatee? He shaved before his post fight press conference on Saturday and it's so grown out already? Maybe idk how much hair people grow... #UFC248 #MMATwitter #ufc #MMA #FakeNews https://t.co/yee7gzxUVK pic.twitter.com/RBLr6RhyrG— Tito Kray (@KrayTito) March 10, 2020
GAME AF. https://t.co/P0XeSfX9H6— Dan Hangman Hooker (@danthehangman) March 10, 2020
Ngannou sparring undefeated pro boxer and Olympic silver medalist Joe Joyce.
12 rounds in the bank last night with 3 tough guys. Thanks to @UFC’s @francis_ngannou for the rounds. Big strong heavyweight. #THEJUGGERNAUT pic.twitter.com/UL4Xb7cHmQ— Joe Joyce (@JoeJoyceBoxing) March 10, 2020
Emil Meek with creative problem solving.
Wim Hoff do mankind a favor! Breath away the corona virus!!! @Iceman_Hof #coronavirus— Emil Valhalla Meek (@emilvalhalla) March 10, 2020
Your OFFICIAL #UFCLincoln poster has DROPPED.— UFC (@ufc) March 9, 2020
Tickets on-sale now ➡️ https://t.co/eH9jDfJSMV pic.twitter.com/3LXsDcZIgy
Austin Arnett (16-7) vs. Dinis Paiva (13-7); CES 61, April 24.
Kyle Bochniak (8-5) vs. Jonathan Gary (13-11-2); CES 61, April 24.
Andre Soukhamthath (13-8) vs. Da’Mon Blackshear (7-3); CES 61, April 24.
Diego Ferreira (17-2) vs. Drew Dober (22-9, 1 NC); UFC Oklahoma City, May 2.
Dustin Poirier (25-6) vs. Dan Hooker (20-8); UFC San Diego, May 16.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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