Live from the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the UFC packs a cards with two incredible title fights. The co-headliner features rising star and current Strawweight Champion Weili Zhang and former Strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejcyzk. Both women are strikers, and this has classic written all over it. So don’t blink. As for the headliner, undefeated Champion Israel Adesanya takes on Yoel Romero in what should be a crazy fight. With Romero’s explosiveness and Adesanya’s crazy style, this has fireworks written all over it.
UFC 248 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero – I have the utmost respect for Adesanya. He’s a superstar and a legit badass. I mean, who calls out Yoel Romero? A guy who, technically is on a two fight losing streak. A guy who is built like a tank, hits like a truck and has Olympic level wrestling abilities. And my opinion, a nightmare matchup for everyone in the division. Problem is, Romero is getting older, cardio is always a factor and he for whatever reason neglects to use his wrestling. However, this is most likely his last shot at a title and I feel like it’s finally his time to win UFC gold.
Adesanya is the future and it’s so hard to pick against him. He’s got some of the most dynamic striking in the UFC. He’s so technical and precise, has excellent cardio and his fight IQ is top notch. My only concern is his ability to stay away from Romero’s power. Romero’s just so explosive and I really believe this being his last shot at title, he’s going to use his wrestling early to set up an eventual knockout. So there’s that, Romero via knockout. And New,
115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight Champion Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – I’m conflicted, but I’m saying And Still. I feel like I’ve discredited Zhang throughout her UFC title run. I believe I pretty much uttered the words that she had no chance against Jessica Andrade and that her competition prior wasn’t anything special. Boy was I wrong. Zhang‘s got crisp striking and legit knockout power. She uses her kicks well, applies pressure and when she smells blood, absolutely puts it on her foe. She’s got good wrestling and devastating ground and pound. I seriously believe the Zhang ERA is amongst us, which is quite the turnaround from what I was saying a fight ago.
And no disrespect to Jedrzejcyzk. She’s one of the best technical strikers in the UFC, period. I just feel, Zhang is a handful and these weight cuts by Jedrzejcyzk got to be zapping her. So with that, I have Zhang retaining via TKO.
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose – This is a fun fight, but Dariush is the only specialist in this fight. I mean, Dariush has good hands, but it’s grappling that is a real neutralizer. Klose is well rounded, but he hasn’t faced anyone yet who is going to be a handful in the grappling department. In the end, Dariush controls Klose for three rounds and gets the nod via decision.
170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Neil Magny – I gotta admit, I have the recent juggernaut that is Jingliang steamrolling Magny early. However, I also gotta admit that these are the exact fights that Magny has had in the past, only to weather the storm and win. Magny is blessed with durability, cardio, volume and a pace that breaks fighters. I just feel the momentum Jingliang is on, combined with his power and Magny’s long layoff equate to Jingliang knockout victory.
170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Alex Oliveira – Griffin is a well rounded fighter, and has evolved mightily from his earlier UFC fights. No longer is he the wild power puncher, but now a technical striker with the knack to wrestle. However, it hasn’t translated to wins thanks to a few iffy decision losses. Something that I sense happening in this fight. Oliveira is well rounded as well, but he’s technical and a counter puncher. His grappling is top notch, but his cardio is always a mystery. In the end, on the heels of three straight losses and his back against the wall, it’s Oliveira who I believe walks away the decision winner.
UFC 248 Prelims Card On ESPN (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez – While O’Malley hasn’t fought in quite some time, Quinonez isn’t exactly a fighter that will beat him. Don’t get me wrong, Quinonez is fun, but he doesn’t exactly excel in one area that will threaten O’Malley. In the end, the Sugar Show returns emphatically with a KO victory.
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Mark Madsen – While Hubbard held his own with grappling wiz Davi Ramos, I’m not sure if he’s ready for an Olympic level wrestler like Madsen. Think we see a rinse and repeat of takedowns from Madsen en route to a decision victory.
185 lbs.: Saparbek Safarov vs. Rodolfo Vieira – While I do have Vieira winning eventually by submission, I don’t think it will be as easy as people believe. Sararov is tough and is moving down from Light Heavyweight. He‘s got power and pretty impressive takedown defense. If he can keep this fight upright, an upset isn’t out of the question. For now though, I’m sticking with Vieira via submission.
185 lbs.: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn – I really want to pick Winn here because his overall skill set is better than Meerschaert. Then again, Winn is just too undersized. Meerschaert has a 7 inch height and reach advantage, which is massive. As long as he avoids the pocket and brawl, he should be fine. I mean, Meerschaert has shown decent striking chops and has solid grappling. If Winn decides to take him down, Meerschaert is dangerous off his back. By the third round, I see a gassed Winn make a brutal mistake that gets him submitted.
UFC 248 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Polyana Viana vs. Emily Whitmire – Viana is clearly the better fighter and she needs to realize her potential right now. Otherwise, she’s ticketed for a pink slip. So with that, I have Viana winning via decision.
135 lbs.: Jamall Emmers vs. Giga Chikadze – I’m conflicted in this one. Chikadze is a decorated kickboxer and is often a handful on the feet. However, Brandon Davis held his own striking with the kickboxer and even took him down several times. Which indicates to me that Chikadze’s takedown defense is a problem and is going to be a crux to his success. Emmers can wrestle and strike a bit, which could very well edge him out a decision victory. However, I’m going with Chikadze. I believe he can keep the fight on the feet long enough to outpoint Emmers and edge out rounds en route to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti – Let’s be real, Cannetti has had a long lay-off and is 40 years old. Batgerel is coming off a UFC debut in which he was awarded a Fight of the Night bonus. He showed a chin and some decent striking, which is all that’s needed to dispose of Cannetti via KO in the first round.