The UFC returns to Vegas this weekend for a very exciting card in the form of UFC 248. This is headlined by an epic Middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. We’ve also got a title fight at Strawweight in the co-main, with Weili Zhang taking on Joanna Jedrzejczyk. We’ll preview each of the top 3 fights on this card, providing our best bets in the process.
Israel Adesanya: The champ enters this bout with a flawless career record, going 18-0 thus far. He had the biggest win of his career last time out, a dominant 2nd round KO of Aussie Rob Whittaker. He only joined the UFC in 2018, but has since had a series of victories over the likes of Brunson, Silva, Gastelum, and Whittaker. Known for his elite striking ability, 14 of these wins have come by KO.
Yoel Romero: Now 42 years of age, Soldier of God enters this bout with a 13-4 career record. He appears to be on the downside of his career, having lost 3 of his last 4 contests. Having produced some of the hardest hits the Middleweight division has ever seen, 11 of his 13 wins have come by way of knockout.
Prediction: Adesanya by KO/Points
Given his recent form and inability to make weight, it’s surprising to see a title shot for Romero here. Adesanya has looked outstanding since joining the UFC, beating the top Middleweight contenders with relative ease. I think he’s the more versatile of these two fighters and has a number of routes to victory here. The most likely outcome is that he secures a KO with a versatile striking pattern, but a decision win is also somewhat probable.
Weili Zhang: Zhang enters this bout with a very impressive career record of 20-1. She had an epic 42 second KO of Andrade last time out, becoming the first Chinese national to hold a UFC belt. She is renowned for a vicious and relentless style, securing 10 knockouts and 7 submission wins thus far.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: Arguably the most storied Strawweight of all time, Joanna enters this bout with a mark of 16-3. She has lost 3 of her last 5 bouts overall, including 2 title fight defeats to Rose Namajunas. She flirted briefly with the Flyweight division, losing a title fight to Shevchenko before returning. Her style is based on relentless striking and elite cardio, highlighted by 11 decision wins thus far.
Prediction: Zhang to Win
Joanna was once a beast at this level, but she just doesn’t have the same aura anymore. Zhang has been flawless since joining the UFC and can overwhelm Joanna with her power and ground game here. Should this reach a relatively close decision verdict, I also see the UFC protecting their interests in China. Overall, she has a clear route to win via every method, which is much more than can be said for Joanna.
Beneil Dariush: The Iranian veteran enters this one with a respectable career mark of 17-4-1. He had a down spell in 2017-18, but has since rebounded with 3 straight wins, including consecutive submissions. Primarily a submission specialist, his prowess on the ground has resulted in 8 submission wins thus far.
Drakkar Klose: Klose also enters this contest with a very impressive record, going 11-1-1 through his first 13 fights. He joined the UFC through the Ultimate Fighter in 2017 and has since gone 3-1. He does seem to lack that killer instinct, failing to record a finish in each of his last 8 fights.
Prediction: Dariush to Win
Dariush is the more technically gifted fighter here and has a big advantage if this fight goes to the ground. I think his elite takedown offence allows him to control this fight, winning each round and potentially earning a submission. Even if Klose gets on top early, his inability to finish opens the door for a ground attack by Dariush. If you can get a double chance market, I like Submission/Points to cover the most bases.