The main event of UFC 248 saw Israel Adesanya making his first middleweight title defense against 42-year-old UFC veteran Yoel Romero. The bout followed an action-packed co-main event that saw Zhang Weili defeat Joanna Jedrzejczyk via split decision, but failed to deliver anywhere near the same intensity of the strawweight title fight.
The first round saw an entire minute pass without either fighter attempting a strike, with Romero hunching over and protecting his head while Adesanya remained cautious of his opponent’s potential. After a few light kick attempts by Adesanya, Romero landed a strike to Adesanya’s head and then a round kick to the body.
Round two saw just slightly more action, with Romero landing a series of strong hits that seemed to rock Adesanya. Adesanya was able to land a few solid kicks, but nothing big enough to significantly threaten his opponent.
The fighters upped the ante a bit for round three. Romero ducked under a high kick from Adesanya and began to reply to Adesanya’s kicks with kicks of his own. Still, the round passed with boos from the audience who were disappointed in the lack of action throughout the fight.
Round four saw more unanswered kicks from Adesanya. With 2:45 left to go, Romero took time out for an eye poke from Adesanya, but was able to return to the fight shortly. He got Adesanya to the ground, but was unable to follow up, and the fighters resumed battling on their feet. Following a number of low kicks from Adesanya, Romero shot for another takedown toward the end of the round, but was unable to capitalize on it before the end of the round.
Adesanya had some impressive dodges and ducks in the fifth round — necessary for avoiding the heavy, but sparse strikes that Romero was throwing. Adesanya continued to rely on kicks for damage, causing visible swelling on Romero’s right leg. There was a bit of taunting near the end of the fight, and Romero came at Adesanya aggressively in the last ten seconds to land a couple of strikes.
At the end of the fight, the judges awarded the fight to Adesanya via unanimous decision; he will retain the middleweight title.