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|Where||T- Mobile Arena – Paradise, NV|
|When||Saturday, March 7, 10 PM EST|
|How to Watch||Watch on ESPN+ here!|
Height: 6 ft. 4 in.
Reach: 80 in.
Returning to the octagon for the first time since becoming the UFC’s undisputed middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya takes on an opponent that he specifically requested.
Although coming off of a loss to Paulo Costa, fighter Yoel Romero was hand-selected by the champion to be his next challenger – a challenge that Romero happily accepted.
This Saturday night will see the undefeated middleweight champion Israel Adesanya make his first title defense against the former Olympian and two-time title challenger Yoel Romero.
After a four-fight winning streak in the UFC, Adesanya was scheduled as the co-main event of UFC 234 where he would fight legend Anderson Silva.
Their fight was moved up to the main event after a middleweight title bout between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum was canceled due to injury to the champion, Whittaker. Adesanya would defeat Silva and a matchup was scheduled between himself and title challenger Gastelum for the interim title.
In a showcase that many believed to be fight-of-the-year, Adesanya escaped as the winner. This led to his fight with Robert Whittaker to decide who was the true undisputed UFC champion.
At UFC 243 last October, Adesanya would impress the whole MMA community when he made short work of Whittaker, knocking the champion out in the second round. Adesanya, after 1.5-years in the UFC, was now 18-0 and the middleweight champion.
Nigerian-born but residing in New Zealand, Adesanya trains with the hugely popular City Kickboxing gym with head coach Eugene Bareman. Fighting since 2009, Adesanya is a former kickboxer, owning a record of 75-5.
The champion has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Andre Galvao, as well, and is currently ranked as the sixth-best fighter on the UFC men’s pound-for-pound list. He comes into the fight Saturday night a six-inch height advantage over Yoel Romero as well as a 6.5-inch reach advantage.
Height: 5 ft. 10 in.
Reach: 73.5 in.
The age-defying middleweight contender Yoel Romero will be fighting in the fourth title fight of his career come Saturday night.
But it wasn’t originally planned. The last man to beat Romero, Paulo Costa, was expected to get the next crack at the title. But after Costa suffered an injury to his bicep, and due to his status in the UFC as one of the most dangerous fighters, the champion Adesanya himself called out Romero to face him as a way to further his legacy.
Romero was quick to oblige him.
This situation was almost unprecedented at the time. Romero was just 1-3 in his last four fights, including losing two in a row. After a second loss to former champ Robert Whittaker in a fight of the night performance, Romero was put up against Costa at UFC 241 last summer. In what was named another fight of the night, Romero dropped the bout via unanimous decision. It was a close, hard-fought affair.
The Cuban fighter and former silver-medalist at the 2000 Olympics trains in Florida with the American Top Team gym.
Non for his incredible wrestling resume as well as his knockout power, Romero made the transition to MMA in 2009.
Although the smaller fighter, his power is almost unmatched in the middleweight division, where he is currently ranked as the third-best by the UFC.
Height: 5 ft. 4 in.
Reach: 63 in.
In what is sure to be the toughest fight of her career, women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili enters the octagon Saturday night to make her first title defense against the former, and longest-reigning strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The latter defended her title five times before her loss to Rose Namajunas. Namajunas would lose the title to Jessica Andrade and, in Andrade’s first title defense, she would lose the belt to Weili.
Weili enters this fight riding a professional winning streak of 20 fights. In fact, the champion has not lost a mixed martial arts bout since her professional debut in 2013.
Weili signed with the UFC in 2018 and won her first three in a row, including a win over former champion Tecia Torres, before landing the title shot opportunity against Andrade. The two women met in the main event of a UFC Fight Night in China last August.
Weili would decimate the champion, winning by TKO in just 42 seconds. On top of the title, Weili was awarded the performance of the night bonus.
Ranked third overall in the women’s pound-for-pound rankings, Weili is the first Chinese-born fighter to hold a title.
Weili trains out of her home country in the city of Beijing with the Black Tiger Fight Club under coaches Xuejen Cai and Pedro Jordao, whom she has a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under. She is also a former KLF strawweight champion.
Height: 5 ft. 6 in.
Reach: 65.5 in.
Come Saturday night, Joanna Jedrzejczyk will mark the tenth time in her last 12 fights that she has fought for a UFC title.
Winning the title form Carla Esparza in 2015, Jedrzejcyk defended the belt five times before losing to Rose Namajunas.
She lost again to “Thug Rose” in an immediate rematch. Those fights marked the first and second losses of her professional career.
Joann bounced back with a win over Tecia Torres and was then pitted against Valentina Shevchenko for the new (and vacant) women’s flyweight title at UFC 231.
Joanna would once again lose. She returned to the strawweight division for her last fight – a bout against Michelle Waterson that Jedrejczyk won via unanimous decision.
Jedrzejczyk, born in Poland, has been fighting professionally since 2012.
She is a member of the world-renowned American Top Team gym in Florida. Ranked as the fourth-best strawweight and fifth-best pound-for-pound women’s fighter in the UFC, Joanna comes into this fight against Zhang Weili with a two-inch height advantage and a 2.5-inch reach advantage.
Height: 5 ft. 10 in.
Reach: 72 in.
UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career heading into UFC 248.
Dariush has won three fights in a row. After a unanimous decision win over Thiago Moises, Dariush went on to submit Drew Dober in the second round of their fight.
He was awarded the “performance of the night” bonus. In his last fight, Dariush went up against Frank Camacho last October. Dariush once again won by submission, this time in the first round, and once again received a performance of the night bonus.
Although still unranked, a win Saturday could see Dariush break into the division’s top-15. The Iranian fighter trains in California with Kings MMA and trainer Rafael Cordeiro. He has black belts in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai. He has been fighting professionally since 2009. He will have a two-inch height and two-inch reach advantage Saturday night.
Height: 5 ft. 8 in.
Reach: 70 in.
Drakkar Klose joined the UFC in 2017 and has had some hard-fought battles throughout his tenure.
He is 5-1 in the UFC with all of his fights going to the judges’ scorecards, including his loss. Klose is currently on a three-fight win streak of his own that has seen him defeat the likes of Lando Vannata and Bobby Green.
His most recent fight, at UFC 241, came against Christos Giagos. As mentioned earlier, Klose won the fight by unanimous decision.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Drakkar Klose trains out of Arizona at the Fight Ready gym. The orthodox fighter has been training since 2014 and has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is a former state championship wrestler.
Height: 6 ft. 3 in.
Reach: 80 in.
Neil Magny has been a mainstay in the UFC welterweight division for a while now and he holds notable wins over the likes of former champions Johnny Hendricks and Carlos Condit as well as former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum.
But Magny hasn’t fought in over a year, with his last fight taking place in November 2018. That fight was against rising star Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Magny was, unfortunately, knocked out by Ponzinibbio in the fourth round. The loss ended a two-fight winning streak.
The American fighter currently trains out of Colorado with the Elevation Fight Team. He has a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Miguel Torres and Andre Leite. He is a former Ultimate Fighter contestant and has been fighting professionally since 2010. He will have a three-inch height and eight-inch reach advantage.
Height: 6 ft.
Reach: 72 in.
Chinese fighter Li Jingliang finds himself on the other side of the coin from his opponent. Not only is he coming off of a win, but he’s won his last three fights in a row.
After a successful 2018 that saw him defeat both Daichi Abe and David Zawada, Jinliang fought Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos last August.
He picked up his third win in a row via third-round TKO over dos Santos.
”The Leech” has been active in mixed martial arts since 2007 and has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He currently trains with China Top Team out of Beijing. He is one year younger than his opponent and has yet to break into the rankings of the UFC welterweight division.
Height: 5 ft. 11 in.
Reach: 76 in.
As much of a fan favorite that Alex Oliveira is, we may have seen the last of him in the UFC should he lose this bout against Griffin.
Over his last three fights, Oliveira has gone 0-3, losing to the likes of Gunnar Nelson and Mike Perry. His most recent bout came last September. “Cowboy” faced off against Nicolas Dalby and lost the fight via unanimous decision.
A Brazilian-born fighter, Oliveira trains in his home country with the ATS team with coach Andre Tadeu. Fighting professionally since 2011, Oliveira boasts a dark blue prajied in muay thai and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Height: 6 ft.
Reach: 76 in.
Much like his opponent, Max Griffin has struggled as of late.
In fact, he has struggled since joining the UFC. Going just 3-5 since joining the company, Griffin most recently found himself on the losing end of a fight against Alex Morono last October. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
He’s had a rough go in the UFC since losing his debut fight against Colby Convington in 2016.
Born in California, Griffin is a member of Marinoble’s Martial Arts gym.
He is under the tutelage of coaches Bo Sandoval and Dave Marinoble. He has a second-degree black belt in kickboxing, a black belt in Bok Fu, and has been competing since 2009.
Figueiredo def. Benavidez via TKO (Round 2)
Figueiredo missed weight and was ineligible to win the vacant flyweight title.
Spencer def. Dos Santos via TKO (Round 1)
Ankalaev def. Cutelaba via TKO (Round 1)
Anderson def. Viana via KO (Round 1)
Dawson def. Minner via RNC submission (Round 2)
Six fights are taking place during Fight Night 248
There are two middleweight fights, two welterweight matches, and a women’s strawweight match.
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Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of the sport of hockey and the NHL.
Email: [email protected]More info on Ryan Bristlon
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