UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya maintains he was there to fight against Yoel Romero.

The pair collided in the UFC 248 headliner in March in what was a highly-anticipated middleweight title matchup. However, the contest was a letdown with minimal action from both sides over the course of the 25 minute affair.

Adesanya — who ended up winning the unanimous decision verdict — received his fair share of criticism afterward even though Romero could have done a lot more to engage with him. And based on how the fight went, “The Last Stylebender” still believes only one of them came with the intention of competing.

READ MORE:  Khamzat Chimaev pokes at UFC kingpin Israel Adesanya: 'Everybody knows he's going to lose the title to me'

“I was there to fight,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting. “I was there actually attacking, probing, being smart about it. His first chance was when he actually punched my eyeball and sent my eyeball into the back of my skull. That was his chance. Anyone could see, ‘He’s compromised, attack the guy, he’s compromised,’ but he stood there still for like another two minutes.

“That just showed me he didn’t want to fight. He was just hoping I’d make the same mistake twice. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. It was like he was expecting me to stand there and get hit. Bro, you stood there, you forced my hand to move, I made a mistake. I got a hard head, he didn’t drop me. That hit me in the eye completely. Did not wobble me. Did not shake me. Did not rock me. Did not drop me.”

READ MORE:  Israel Adesanya welcomes trilogy championship fight with Robert Whittaker, open to UFC 293 clash

After Romero caught Adesanya with that punch in the first round, the latter adjusted his game plan so he wouldn’t be caught again.

He utilized leg kicks to great effect while avoiding Romero whenever he did attempt to aggressively come forward. For some, that was Adesanya being scared. But the New Zealander doesn’t care about criticism from the fans.

After all, he came away virtually unscathed from a fight with Romero.

READ MORE:  Israel Adesanya’s coach scoffs at Robert Whittaker's title claim: 'He hasn’t really done anything since that loss'

“I don’t give a f*ck what these drunks are thinking about in the crowd, all these fans, quote-unquote, I don’t really give a f*ck what they think,” Adesanya added. “I know for me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep with myself at night [if I lost by being reckless]. That’s what matters.”

What do you make of Adesanya’s performance nearly two months on from UFC 248?

Experienced freelance sports writer covering mixed martial arts (MMA) extensively for the last few years. Likes a good body shot.