Fighters Only’s UFC 248 preview is brought to you by 5Dimes.
Can you believe it? Another month has passed and the UFC is looking to kick March off to a flyer with a big UFC pay-per-view event with two title fights.
Taking place in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC 248 is headlined by a UFC middleweight championship fight between Israel Adesanya and the fearsome perennial contender Yoel Romero.
A UFC strawweight title fight pitting champion Weili Zhang and former queen of the division Joanna Jedrzejczyk serves as a mouth-watering appetiser in the co-main event.
Scroll to the very bottom of this preview to check out the full UFC 248 fight card to gear yourself up for the weekend.
As always, along with the preview of the two championship fights at UFC 248, Fighters Only will be providing picks for the best bets and 5Dimes will provide the odds.
But before that, make sure you take a look at our free MMA guide, created in partnership with 5Dimes.
UFC 248: Middleweight Championship bout – Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Yoel Romero
Top of the UFC 248 bill is an intriguing UFC middleweight championship bout between Nigeria-born New Zealander Israel Adesanya and Cuban Olympian Yoel Romero.
It’s a classic match-up of style versus style as the revered striker takes on a decorated, internationally-renowned wrestler.
Adesanya burst onto the UFC scene in early 2018 and has achieved a whole lot since making his UFC debut on the undercard of UFC 221 in Perth, Australia.
The talented former professional kickboxer boasts a perfect 18-0 MMA record, 14 of those wins coming by knockout.
Many pundits and fans questioned Adesanya’s as he faced an increasing level of competition which posed different type of Octagon threats as to be expected for any surging prospect rising up the UFC ranks. However, “The Last Stylebender” has wreaked havoc, blowing right through almost every test thrown his way thus far.
Since starting his UFC life in February 2018, Adesanya has knocked out Rob Wilkinson, Derek Brunson and former champion Robert Whittaker – the fight which saw him winning the unified title at 185 pounds – while earning decision wins over the likes of Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum.
Romero will be Adesanya’s eighth UFC fight in little over two years. An impressive feat from the Kiwi.
Known as “Soldier of God,” Romero has been kicking around in the UFC since 2013.
For at least five of those seven years with the promotion, Romero has cut a boogeyman-type figure in the middleweight division.
Olympic Games silver medalist. World champion and multi-medalist in the World Championships. Multiple-time champion at the Pan American Games. Romero has some track record when it comes to the freestyle wrestling. Though he is yet to raise UFC gold as champion, Romero’s talents in the wrestling world have successfully translated to mixed martial arts.
In the UFC, Romero has conquered names such as Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Tim Kennedy, Derek Brunson, Brad Tavares and more – the first three of which being former UFC champions.
Romero has fought for the UFC middleweight championship before. He came up short against Australia’s Robert Whittaker, losing a unanimous decision in a fairly large upset judging by the bookmakers’ odds.
He was also supposed to fight for the belt – the interim and the unified – on two further occasions. However, Romero failed to make championship weight for both bouts. The first occasion saw him knock out the aforementioned Rockhold inside three rounds. The second time was for a rematch with Whittaker which saw him on the losing side of a contentious split decision awarded in favour of “The Reaper” following five rounds of back-and-forth action.
Last time out, Romero again dropped a close decision – this time against Brazilian phenom Paulo Costa in August 2019.
This means Romero has been awarded a UFC title shot despite being on a two-fight run of losses. Few men or women could command such an opportunity in that situation, but then there aren’t many like the Cuban.
As mentioned at the top of this fight preview, this bout is a classic clash of styles. Adesanya is a really impressive kickboxer and has brushed away the opponents he’s faced who have wrestling backgrounds. But there are few wrestlers of Romero’s ilk to have ever put on the four-ounce gloves.
It’s a really tough fight to call, but it’s clear the odds seem to favour Adesanya’s abilities to retain his unified championship at the first attempt.
With that in mind, there are some great odds for a Romero win for a man who poses such danger. It’s not the case of merely odds-chasing if Romero is listed as the Octagon.
Provided he can make weight on this occasion, Romero poses a very real threat to Adesanya’s crown. The Kiwi has been fantastic in his meteoric rise to prominence in the MMA world, but it’s highly possible we could see Romero become champion at UFC 248 and the odds are very generous for that potential outcome.
Recommendation: Yoel Romero win: +240 @ 5Dimes
UFC 248: Strawweight Championship bout – Weili Zhang (c) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
In the lead-up to the main event we will be treated to a UFC women’s strawweight championship bout pitting newly-crowned champion Weili Zhang against the longest-serving titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
These two talented kickboxers come into the fight with different motivations.
Zhang is seeking her first title defence since snatching it from Jessica Andrade’s grasp in August last year. On the other side, Jedrzejczyk is looking to reclaim the crown which was once hers and reassert herself as the best 115-pounder to ever grace the Octagon.
It only took three UFC fights for Sanda specialist Zhang to get her title shot. The 30-year-old Chinese striker comfortable dispatched of Danielle Taylor, Jessica Aguilar, and Tecia Torres en route to her championship bout.
In fact, Zhang only made her MMA debut in 2013 in a losing effort. Since then, “Magnum” has compiled 20 consecutive wins in an impressive run of fighting form.
Some quarters questioned how ready Zhang was to face the physical and experienced Andrade when they fought in Shenzhen, China back in August 2019.
Any lingering doubts were quickly extinguished as she blitzed her way to a knockout win against the Brazilian in less than a minute.
However, Jedrzejczyk poses new problems for Zhang. The Chinese fighter hasn’t faced a fellow striker of the same aptitude as the Polish kickboxer.
After joining the UFC roster in 2014, Jedrzejczyk defeated Juliana Lima and Claudia Gadelha on her way to facing The Ultimate Fighter winner Carla Esparza for her UFC strawweight strap.
Jedrzejczyk mauled Esparza, emerging from the Octagon with a second-round TKO victory, before embarking on a run of title defences which put her name in conversations about the UFC’s most dominant champions.
Joanna “Champion” defeated Gadelha, Jessia Penne, Valerie Letourneau, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Andrade for her run of five title defences before dropping her belt and unbeaten record to Rose Namajunas in 2017.
That 14-fight win streak ending in such abrupt fashion certainly disrupted Jedrzejczyk’s momentum in the UFC.
She lost the immediate rematch with Namjunas, before trading two wins for a loss in between. Those victories came against the aforementioned Tecia Torres and later Michelle Waterson, while she lost a five-round decision after stepping up a weight class to take on Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant UFC women’s flyweight championship.
Jedrzejczyk has alluded to a number of personal problems being a contributing factor to her patchy fighting form and some scary weight cuts down to 115-pound championship weight. However, she insists those issues are behind her and she is hell-bent on reclaiming the title which was once hers.
In terms of bets and predictions for the fight, like the main event it’s a bit of a pick’em fight. Zhang may have a physical advantage over Jedrzejczyk, but the latter has proven she has the toughness and grit to back up her technical striking which is rivaled by few.
So instead of a pick to win the fight, I feel there are good odds to be had at 5Dimes to see the fight end early. In general, strawweight fights don’t garner too many finishes, but both Zhang and Jedrzejczyk look vicious on the feet and they both will be eager to make a big impressions in the cage for their opposing reasons.
The fight is also tinged with a bit of bad blood too, which always seems to ratchet up the intensity come fight night.
Recommendation: Fight won’t go the distance: +115 @ 5Dimes
Full UFC 248 fight card
Middleweight championship: Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Yoel Romero
Women’s Strawweight championship: Zhang Weili (c) vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose
Welterweight: Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang
Welterweight: Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin
Bantamweight: Sean O’Malley vs. José Alberto Quiñónez
Lightweight: Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard
Middleweight: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov
Middleweight: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn
Women’s Strawweight: Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana
Featherweight: Giga Chikadze vs. Jamall Emmers
Bantamweight: Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti