Israel Adesanya will face a steep test in his first-ever UFC middleweight title defense.
Adesanya puts his 185-pound strap on the line against Yoel Romero in the UFC 248 pay-per-view (PPV) main event on March 7 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s an interesting matchup for “Stylebender,” as many believe Romero’s wrestling ability will be difficult for the striker to deal with. However, speaking to Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole in a recent interview, Adesanya explained that his footwork will be key in dealing with Romero’s wrestling.
“Well, I can control where the fight goes as well, because of my footwork,” Adesanya said. “Like I said, wrestling doesn’t always start straight away from the clinch, it starts from the feet. Where your feet are placed. And he’s flat-footed. I am not. I have really good footwork, and also, when he gets his hands on you, it’s hard to get your hands on me when you can’t see me. And he keeps saying, ‘I see you soon, boy.’ But you won’t.”
Romero is coming off of a loss to Paulo Costa, who was originally expected to challenge Adesanya first. Unfortunately, Costa suffered an injury that forced him to be on the sideline for several months, and Adesanya decided to call out who many believe is the most dangerous fight in the division instead. Should Adesanya manage to earn a successful title defense over Romero in March, it will be an extraordinary way to kick off his title reign.
The Nigerian-born champion will then have no shortage of challengers if that’s the case, as he already has beef with the likes of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and middleweight contender Paulo Costa. Adesanya also recognizes the work being put in by rising contender Jared Cannonier, who is expected to face Darren Till at UFC 248 as well.
What do you think about Adesanya’s plan to avoid Romero’s wrestling game?