UFC 248 delivered as another solid card all around. There were many entertaining performances from the prelims and main card, but all that gets put to shame as the co-main event proves to be one of the best fights in UFC history. The UFC Women’s Strawweight champion, Weili Zhang was set to do battle with former dominant strawweight champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
This fight on paper, had the potential to be very good, but nobody expected what actually went down. Joanna was coming into this fight going 2-3 in her last five fights. Her recent performances had people wondering if her reign of dominance was over, as she successfully defended her title five times, and has the most wins in UFC women’s strawweight history at ten.
Joanna earned herself a strawweight title shot once more after she unsuccessfully tried her hand at the women’s flyweight title. Zhang entered this fight on a 20-fight win streak, not having lost since her first professional MMA bout. Zhang won the UFC women’s strawweight title after only being in the UFC for about a year, with a brutal TKO victory over Jessica Andrade. The fighting style of brawler vs technician was perfect to provide entertainment for the fans
As the fight began, both women were throwing bombs out the gate. Zhang was connecting with big power shots early on, but Joanna was not backing down as she landed crisp combos from outside, using her range to her advantage. As the fight went on, it was only more of the same, back and forth exchanges between two warriors. After every round, both fighters’ faces would be more brutally damaged. About halfway through the fight, Zhang landed a blow to the forehead of Joanna that resulted in a nasty looking hematoma that she had to deal with for the rest of the fight.
By the end of the fight, Zhang’s face was covered in blood, while Joanna was nearly unrecognizable. In a truly back and forth war between two legit badasses, Weili Zhang comes out with the split decision victory to keep her gold. Although Joanna outstruck Zhang by 26 strikes, and landed at a 53% clip, compared to 41% for Zhang, the power shots of Weili just did too much damage for the judges to overlook.
The main event of the evening was for the UFC Middleweight title between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. A style bending kickboxing phenom fighting a freak athlete, one punch KO power, olympic wrestler, had UFC fans salivating, especially after the treat we got for the co-main event. This had potential to match the fight that was leading up to it, but boy we could not have been more wrong. This was quite literally, the most uneventful, anti climatic fight in UFC championship history. There was almost no action the whole fight, having landed a combined 88 strikes in five rounds.
Zhang and Joanna landed more than this through two rounds, and they still went the distance. This fight was more weird than it was anything. Adesanya did the smart thing and kept his distance throwing light jabs and tons of leg kicks that swelled up Yoel’s leg. Romero did, well, pretty much nothing. He would try to lure Adesanya in with a false sense of security by bouncing around and sometimes lowering his guard. For someone who is probably fighting his last title shot ever, considering he’s 42, he didn’t seem to fight with any urgency the whole time. Usually when you are down on a score card and its clear, you go for broke and give it everything you got. After finally five rounds of almost nothing, the judges scored it a unanimous decision in favor of Israel Adesanya.
As UFC 248’s main event was a snooze fest, the card was all around solid and was quite entertaining none the less. We got to witness what I believe will go down as a top 5 fight in UFC history, regardless of gender, and will no doubt win fight of the year. Congrats to Weili Zhang and Israel Adesanya on their successful title defenses and I’m excited to watch each of their next fights.
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