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After UFC 248 loss, Yoel Romero critical of Israel Adesanya’s strategy: ‘You want to see running, go see Usain Bolt’

The main event of UFC 248 was a major letdown and Yoel Romero is putting the onus on Israel Adesanya.

Neither fighter set the Octagon on fire with their performances in Saturday’s main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but when the scorecards were read all three judges agreed that Adesanya had done enough to retain his middleweight title. Not only did Romero disagree, he also felt that the lackluster action was Adesanya’s fault.

Speaking to Joe Rogan post-fight, Romero accused Adesanya of running away and not engaging him during their five-round contest.

“That’s my victory,” Romero said, referring to the sound of cheers from the crowd. “Not here (points at cage), here (points to ear, then crowd), that’s my victory. That’s my victory. I have one question for everybody here. I have big respect for everybody, for all athletes. But my question is, ‘This is the champion for UFC that we and all of you want?’ No, we want to fight. We wanted a fight that’s wild, that’s what we want to see here. That’s really wild. Not like a worried guy. No, no, no, the people want to see the real fight.

“He’s running and running and running—Like the people in Rome, like the gladiators. That’s what the people want to see here. He running and running and running. That’s not a big champion. The big champion stays here in the middle in the fight, like a real champion.”

Via a translator, Romero added, “That’s what I wanted to do was stand there and trade with him to give these fans a fight.”

When the official stats are tallied, it’s unlikely that the numbers will look favorably upon either man as the bout was marred by inactivity, beginning with a bizarre opening round in which Romero appeared to stand in the center of the Octagon with his arms raised in defense while Adesanya stood at a distance from him. Neither man threw anything of significance for several minutes.

Making matters worse, the fight capped off what had otherwise been an eventful evening of action, particularly the co-main event that featured strawweight champion Zhang Weili successfully defending her title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a bout that will go down as one of the greatest in MMA history.

That alone may have given most viewers their money’s worth, but Romero was clearly frustrated that he and Adesanya did not come close to delivering a fight of that caliber.

“The people pay pay-per-view for a real fight. Not for this,” Romero said. “The fighters need to respect that people pay. The people pay because the people want to see the good fight, not for this. That’s why I come here, because I love the people paying, the people working a lot.

“You need to have respect for the people. The people work a lot and pay pay-per-view for what? For fight. No running. You want to see running, go to see Usain Bolt.”

At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Romero elaborated on his thoughts further with the assistance of a Spanish translator.

“It’s impossible to fight against a ghost,” Romero said, again referring to Adesanya’s evasive tactics. “I don’t know how anybody could expect me to fight against a ghost.”

“I’m going to start training for track or cross-country because obviously, he’s a cross-country and a track star so I need to catch up to his sport,” he added.

Romero took umbrage with Adesanya boasting about his potential legacy, especially as it pertains to someday surpassing the UFC records of former middleweight champion Anderson Silva. “The Spider” reigned as one of the most dominant champions in MMA history for six years and still ranks second all-time in consecutive UFC title defenses with 10.

Saturday marked Adesanya’s first successful title defense and Romero doesn’t want to hear his name being mentioned alongside Silva’s.

“The only thing I feel is that I’m ashamed that I couldn’t give the fans a fight or a war that everybody wanted,” Romero said. “It just became a running match and I just feel bad in general. It’s a huge disrespect that supposedly an apparent grand champion of the UFC—It’s a disrespect comparing him to Anderson Silva.

“Anderson Silva at 30 years old would make the whole stadium stand up. It’s a huge disrespect what Israel did today for the fans and for the sport of the UFC.”

To show that he was mostly unharmed, Romero broke into an impromptu salsa dance during his post-fight press conference, and also suggested that his face was mostly unblemished despite facing an opponent with a decorated kickboxing background.

He further insulted Adesanya by comparing him to Robert Whittaker, a former champion that twice defeated Romero before dropping his title to Adesanya.

“Do you know why he won against Robert Whittaker?” Romero said. “Because [Whittaker] wasn’t the same. He suffered a lot if injuries in the years he’s had. And he has respect for everyone. And he would stand and fight with me.”

Romero went on to say that the only winner of the UFC 248 main event was Adesanya. Not him, not the fans, and not the UFC, only Adesanya, in his eyes. Pressed on what was an ideal scenario for him, Romero did not talk about changing the result.

Rather, he spoke about wanting the process to have gone differently.

“Do you really want me to answer what I wanted?” Romero said. “I wanted us to kill each other.”

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