in ,



Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya, 30 vs Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero, 42

Two of the greatest fighters (and greatest names) from top to bottom, ever. We have style & finesse vs. intimidation & power. Both can go 5 and both can put you to sleep. Let’s just hope Yoel makes weight and we have one of the most intriguing UFC fights in years – for the 185lb Middleweight Belt.

Stylebender (6’4”) is a youthful, rangey striker with knockout power and impressive takedown defense (he’ll need it). The Kiwi (native Nigerian) has an extensive kickboxing background which he has used to run through the entire division in less than two years (fights everyone and often) to take the belt from Robert Whittaker (basically knocking him out twice in 8 minutes this past October). Most opponents need a step stool to get to Adesanya’s head (Gastelum, Whittaker, Tavares, Vettori, Brunson all looked much smaller – as a rule of thumb in the UFC, the taller fighter has an edge) and this fight will be no different. Israel is on one of the greatest streaks in the sport’s history, and importantly, just saying yes to THIS fight sent his stock through the roof in my opinion… I couldn’t respect this move more (see Conor and Khabib ducking Gaethje, see Bisping duck everyone…. Israel gains rare status with this decision in my book).

Yoel (6’0” with shoes on) is a 42 year old (!) elite, decorated (Olympian many times over) wrestler from Cuba (we sure about that birth certificate?). Yoel is impressively jacked and yet also one of the best all-around athletes in the sport. Yoel is often confusing and always hard to understand. He also may be the scariest individual walking the planet. #iseeyousoonboi. I still joke that Romero is the very last cellmate I would ever want to be introduced to… In this sport, intimidation is helpful, and there is nobody more intimidating than the Soldier of God (respect to Francis Ngannou (just run), Tito Ortiz (don’t make eye contact), Brock Lesnar (beg), and undoubtedly Anthony Rumble Johnson – his walkout was effing spectactular)…. let’s leave it at that for now.

Officially, Yoel has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, so he’s been given this title shot, Why?? Because he’s never ever lost in the UFC. I said it, and I can defend it…. the “unannnnimous decision” in the Paulo Costa fight? – half the crowd thought it was Yoel, UNANIMOUSLY. The Whittaker fights? A draw at worst and a Yoel victory in #2 is how I scored them.) He gets this title fight because he deserves it. He sidelined the ‘overly inflated balloon animal’ – I mean, where’s Costa been since their fight?? and Whittaker? Been a mess since their 50 minutes of war. I sincerely hope Robert fully recovers because he’s a likeable warrior, but he’ll never be the same again.

HOW IT UNFOLDS… I see two different scenarios, both of them are determined by Romero.
1) Yoel starts slow like always, hands in front of him trying to figure out the distance, conserving energy, and exploding a few times here and there….all the while Adesanya picks him apart from the outside, going up huge on the cards – and forcing Romero into having to finish – which he either a) Will b) Will get caught trying – KO’d by a head kick into barrage (and lots of people will be correct, it was one sided) or c) lose in a unanimous decision (the most elite striker batters the Cuban for 5 rounds…. Adesanya would be called “the new and improved Jon Jones”.  It’s all quite possible.
2) Yoel starts fast. And takes the fight to the leaner, taller fighter early, and we see the whites of Adesanya’s eyes. I think this is Romero’s best chance. Most pundits and friends I speak to think Adesanya makes quick work of the ageing Cuban…. But I think it gets REAL for Stylebender the first time Yoel gets his hands on him…. We’ve seen Adesanya tested (Gastelum in the 4th). We’ve also seen him come back from that adversity with insane power and accuracy (Gastelum 5th round). I just don’t think Adesanya has faced Anyone like YOEL (I think Romero runs through everyone Adesanya beat as well). I don’t think it will be easy, either way. I do hope for a war.
I also expect Romero to get the win (bad reasoning, but he’s just too good to lose 4 of 5). In this scenario: Romero takes the kickboxer to the ground a few times, eventually finding a way to get the TKO before he gasses himself out trying.

MY PREDICTION: YOEL (because of the nightmare he is, it’s man vs. boi, and absolutely my historical bias and first impression… but it has the makings for one of the great ones).

Quick thoughts on a few others, on a card that honestly, every fight could be close:
Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – incredible fight. Joanna is longer, faster with the jab and may pepper Zhang from the outside all night long to a point victory. She’s done it many times before, fought many title fights under the bright lights in Las Vegas. Joanna has the edge in many ways, so I think the odds should be closer to even… Zhang has the whole continent of Asia and their recent Coronavirus crisis saddled on her back (will that weight crush her or propel her? I think it helps). Her journey geographically to get to the octagon Saturday sounded mentally exhausting (China, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, 14 day quarantine in the USA)…. But she looks like a bit of a destroyer, with incredible strength, most likely from 100’s of thousands of reps she puts in each month (I’m assuming this). I have flipped from on Zhang to on Joanna to Neutral. You tell me what to do.
Neil Magny 32 vs. Li Jingliang 31. Decent reach and grappling advantage to Magny. One punch KO power advantage to Jingliang. I like Li. I think he goes on a run, similar to the Korean Zombie, Walt Harris, Geoff Neal, and Petr Yan. Accuracy and Power. Magny is the classic durable, wily vet (also ex Army) so no walk in the park, but I like Jingliang by TKO.
Gerald Meerschaert 29-12, 32 vs. Deron Winn 6-1, 30 Huge height differential, and BJJ over wrestling poses more threats to the wrestler on the ground… but I will still take the Cormier protégé against the Meercat…. who is a complete stiff.
Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira, 32 vs Max Griffin, 34 I’m a fan of Cowboy, and he needs a win. Must see TV, his fights. Just learned Cowboy is the father to 10 children that he knows of….. I think that’s noteworthy.  Not sure who this favours…  sticking with Cowboy.
Mark Madsen, 9-0, 35 vs. Austin Hubbard, 28 Until I say so, take the 2016 Olympic silver medalist  Madsen all day long.
Rodolfo Vieira 6-0, 30 vs. Saparbek Safarov 9-2, 33 Huge underdog alert – Take Safarov in one of your parlays, he’s +600 (that will provide rocket fuel for any ACCA – google KHAMA WORTHY), and can knock this guy out, probably…. (Saf probably gets buried on the mat, but it’s the UFC, they are all good).
Sean O’Malley 10-0, 25 vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez 8-3, 29 There’s a reason why you know his name…. I just don’t know what it is, but I’m sticking with it. The O’Malley kid wins.

Written by KC

Leave a Reply