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It was not the flashy performance for which fans had hoped and was
in fact pedestrian by his lofty standards, as Israel
Adesanya
chose the safest—and perhaps wisest—way forward
against an enigmatic but lethal challenger.

Crushing leg kicks and evasive, risk-averse movement carried
Adesanya to a unanimous decision over Yoel Romero,
allowing him to retain his undisputed
Ultimate Fighting Championship
middleweight crown in the
UFC
248
headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Scores were 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46, all for the
City Kickboxing
star, who improved to 19-0 amid a chorus of
boos from a crowd disappointed by inaction from both men.

The
striking totals were downright anemic for a five-round fight
:
Adesanya was 48-for-132, while Romero went 40-for-89. Romero
connected with more impactful head shots—they included an overhand
left in the first round that stopped the champion in his tracks—but
they were too few and far between to make a difference on the
scorecards. Adesanya’s commitment to leg kicks took an undeniable
toll on the 2000 Olympic silver medalist, providing him with the
separation he needed to maintain his hold on the 185-pound
throne.

In the aftermath of UFC 248 “Adesanya vs. Romero,” here are five
matches that ought to be made:

Israel
Adesanya
vs. Paulo
Henrique Costa
:
Only time will tell whether or not
newfound caution will bleed into future Adesanya appearances. In
his unanimous decision over Romero, it was maddening but
understandable. “The Last Stylebender” battered his counterpart’s
lead leg with kicks, mixed in a handful of body blows and withstood
Romero’s patented blitzes of brief but ferocious offense. Having
cleared one frightening obstacle, Adesanya can now look forward to
another. Costa, an otherworldly physical specimen in his own right,
moved to a perfect 13-0 with a unanimous decision over Romero in
August and was in line to vie for the middleweight title before a
biceps injury put him on the shelf.

Weili Zhang
vs. Jessica
Andrade
Rose
Namajunas
winner:
Zhang retained the undisputed
women’s strawweight championship in the five-round co-main event,
as she outlasted former titleholder Joanna
Jedrzejczyk
in an immediate contender for “Fight of the Year.”
After champion and challenger brought remarkable savagery and skill
to their epic 25-minute battle, Zhang emerged with a split
decision—48-47, 47-48, 48-47—and walked away with her 21st straight
win. According to preliminary data, the two women combined to land
366 total strikes, 351 of which were deemed significant.
Jedrzejczyk exited the cage with a massive hematoma that stretched
from one side of her forehead to the other, the damage the result
of multiple blows from the heavy-handed Zhang. Andrade and
Numajunas will tangle in the UFC 249 co-headliner on April 18.

Beneil
Dariush
vs. Davi
Ramos
Arman
Tsarukyan
winner:
The suddenly-on-fire Dariush
recorded his fourth consecutive victory with a spectacular
one-punch knockout of Drakkar
Klose
in the second round of their lightweight feature. Klose
met his end 60 seconds into Round 2. Dariush controlled the first
five minutes with superior grappling, as he climbed to the back,
secured his position with a standing body triangle and hunted
rear-naked chokes. A firefight broke out at the start of the second
round, where both men were staggered by power punches. Dariush
pushed Klose backward and uncorked a hellacious left hook that
froze the
MMA Lab
rep and brought their encounter to a sudden and
dramatic close. Ramos and Tsarukyan will collide at UFC Fight Night
172 in April.

Neil Magny
vs. Vicente
Luque
-Randy Brown
winner:
Magny dazzled in his return from a 16-month
layoff, as he mauled Jingliang
Li
in a three-round rout and cruised to a lopsided unanimous
decision in their welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges
scored it the same: 30-27 for Magny, who improved to 15-6 under the
UFC flag. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 semifinalist executed
takedowns in all three rounds and wrecked Li in the clinch, where
he utilized knee strikes to the body and head, short punches and
shoulder strikes. The defeat snapped the China Top Team standout’s
three-fight winning streak and put Magny back on the map at 170
pounds. Luque and Brown have been booked against one another at UFC
Fight Night 172 on April 11.

Sean
O’Malley
vs. Raoni
Barcelos
Cody
Stamann
winner:
The talented and charismatic O’Malley
made up for lost time. In his first appearance in more than two
years, the undefeated MMA Lab prospect cut down Jose
Alberto Quinonez
with punches in the first round of their
featured bantamweight prelim. Quinonez succumbed to blows 2:02 into
Round 1. O’Malley, 11-0, stung “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America”
finalist with a right hook, followed with a head kick and sent
Quinonez to the canvas with a short right uppercut before a volley
of hammerfists sealed the deal. Barcelos and Stamann on March 28
will lock horns at UFC on ESPN 8.


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