The main event of UFC 248 continues to live in infamy.
Last month, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya dubbed his lukewarm win over Yoel Romero on February 10. 2018 was the low point of his MMA career. It was one of the most cut-off title fights in the modern era of the UFC, a 25-minute standoff that saw Adesanya and Romero combine to throw less than 90 strikes in a painfully uneventful bout. It was made even worse because the fight that directly preceded it – Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – is generally regarded as one of the greatest in MMA history.
During an apparition on Wednesday the MMA time, Romero was asked about Adesanya’s recent comments, in which “The Last Stylebender” also blamed much of the blame on Romero for the lackluster nature of the encounter. And it’s safe to say Romero disagreed.
“It left a lot to be desired, but let’s get the record straight,” Romero said via a translator. “She called me [out], Right? He’s like, ‘OK, nobody wants to face the beast. I want to face the beast. Not only do I want to face the beast, I want to retire him. ‘ And then I got excited. I was like OK, this is going to be a hell of a fight. Here we go. Do you want the beast? You will have the beast. So then I go up, I get ready for the fight, I’m ready to stand in the middle of the octagon right there – and I do, I stand up in the middle of the octagon ready to fight, ready for blood and for the fans to see a real all-out war. Right?
“But what happened? She starts fighting and feels my power, and suddenly, what? He starts running away from me. I’m not going to chase you.
“That’s not what I’m going to do. The UFC was cuddling him, he was cuddling Izzy and basically I guess what they wanted was me to go after him. No I will not do it. If he was intimidated and didn’t want to punch me, it’s up to him, not me. All I did was stand up with the urge to fight like a man and trade blows. He didn’t want to do it, it depends on him. But he could have been so much more than he was ”.
Romero is currently scheduled to fight Melvin Manhoef on Friday in the Bellator 285 co-main event, which takes place at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.
As it turned out, Adesanya’s bout ended up being Romero’s last appearance in the UFC. The 45-year-old Olympic silver medalist subsequently applied for his release in the UFC and signed with Bellator MMA in 2020, where he went 1-1 in his first two fights with promotion. Most recently, Romero scored a second round knockout victory over Alex Polizzi in May.
Romero said Wednesday that he is not usually critical of a smart or cautious game plan. It is more that he believes that Adesanya did everything in his power to avoid a confrontation altogether.
“Now don’t get me wrong, I understand when someone wants to fight smart,” Romero said. “If you want to go in and out, take a couple of kicks here, a couple of punches there, pick your moment, that’s fine. But that’s not what he did. What he did was that whenever he felt I was getting close to him, he literally ran away.
“So there’s a big difference between being an experienced fighter, picking your points and wanting to be very specific about when you might attack someone and run away. And that’s what he was doing. And I wasn’t going to chase him all over the octagon. It would have been ridiculous. So if he’d been willing to stand there and fight, it would have been one thing. If he wanted to be a smart and strategic fighter, [that would have been] another thing. But that’s not what she did. She was just running all over the place. “
Romero is not the first fighter to attack Adesanya for his cage approach. Whether that’s fair or unfair, the UFC middleweight champion has faced criticism after many of his recent title defenses, including his latest win against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276.
So Romero simply can’t help but emphasize the common denominator in the conversation.
“Have you ever seen a boring Yoel Romero fight [aside from Adesanya] – yes or no? “Romero asked.
“This is my point. Are you kidding me with Izzy, where, if you take Izzy away, now there was a boring fight with Yoel Romero? … How many fights does Izzy have that are boring? you see? you see? The fault is not on Yoel Romero “.