One of the most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts will get back in the Octagon on Saturday when Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya takes on Yoel Romero at T-Mobile Arena. Romero is one of the most respected fighters in the sport to never win a championship belt and it’s that reputation that’s earned him this fight – even though he enters in the midst of a slump.
Can he get back on track in this spot and stop the rapid ascent of Adesanya? Let’s take a closer look at the biggest bets on the upcoming UFC 248 card.
Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero
Odds: Adesanya -280
Romero enters this fight as a small underdog but you have to take a look at the momentum of both fighters as you examine this bout. Adesanya is 18-0 and continues to improve each and every time he gets in the Octagon. The 30-year-old has either won the Performance of the Night or Fight of the Night honors in five straight bouts.
As for Romero, he’s lost three of his last four and is on shaky ground. While he didn’t get knocked out by Paulo Costa at UFC 241, he took a lot of damage. His other two losses before that were to Robert Whittaker. What’s interesting is that Adesanya is coming off a second-round knockout of Whittaker.
This will be a tough test for Adesanya but many expect him to pass it.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Weili Zhang
Odds: Zhang -180
Joanna Jedrzejczyk has fallen on hard times. Although she’s won two of her last three fights, those are her only wins in her last five. She has lost twice to Rose Namajunas and once to Valentina Shevchenko. There’s nothing wrong with losing to elite fighters like those, but Jedrzejczyk might have another one in front of her on Saturday.
Zhang Weili is coming off a knockout win over Jessica Andrade, which allowed her to claim the Women’s Strawweight Championship belt. She’s now won 20 fights in a row and is ranked as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter on the women’s side behind Amanda Nunes and Shevchenko. Jedrzejczyk used to be higher on the list but now she’s No. 5.
Beneil Dariush vs Drakkar Klose
Odds: Dariush -170
Both Lightweight fighters in this bout enter on a three-fight winning streaks, so we’ll have to see who can carry the momentum beyond this bout. Originally, this bout was scheduled for UFC Fight Night 155 in last July but an injury to Dariush forced a delay.
Klose has won three straight via decision, beating Christos Giagos at UFC 241, Bobby Green at UFC on FOX: Lee vs. Iaquinta 2 and Lando Vannata at UFC 226.
As for Dariush, he’s fresh off a win over Frank Camacho at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs Askren in October. Prior to that, he defeated Drew Dober and Thiago Moises in his last two fights.
This feels like a very even contest as Dariush has experience on his side with eight more fights under his belt. He’ll look to get Klose on his back in this one and try to get him to tap out. Of his 17 wins, eight are by submission. If Klose can keep this standing, he’ll have a better shot of winning.