Weekend Warrior: UFC 248 Boasts Title Twin Bill

Perfection has thus far defined undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya’s march through mixed martial arts. “The Last Stylebender” will risk his 185-pound championship and spotless 18-0 record against 2000 Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero in the UFC 248 headliner this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Weili Zhang puts her women’s strawweight crown on the line against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the five-round co-main event at 115 pounds.

Adesanya, 30, enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the middleweight division. He arrived in the UFC in February 2018 and rattled off victories over Rob Wilkinson, Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva and Kelvin Gastelum before wiping out Robert Whittaker with second-round punches to capture the 185-pound title less than two years later. Operating out of the star-studded City Kickboxing camp in New Zealand, Adesanya has delivered 14 of his 18 career wins by knockout or technical knockout.

Cover Photo: Josh Hedges / Contributor (Getty Images)

Power 5: Ranking the Top UFC Fight Night 169 Performances

Israel Adesanya

Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya trade punches. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

Romero enters the cage on a two-fight losing streak. The 42-year-old American Top Team representative last competed at UFC 241, where he wound up on the wrong side of a contentious decision against Paulo Henrique Costa on Aug. 17. An off-the-charts physical specimen, Romero owns a 9-3 record in the UFC and wields a resume that includes victories over three former UFC champions: Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, and Lyoto Machida.

UFC 248 “Adesanya vs. Romero”—which streams live to ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT—also features a lightweight tilt matching Beneil Dariush with Drakkar Klose and a pair of welterweight battles, as Neil Magny meets Jingliang Li and Alex Oliveira faces Max Griffin. ESPN (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and ESPN+ (6:15 p.m. ET/3:15 p.m. PT) will share coverage of the seven-fight undercard.

Ahead of his time: Getting to Know UFC Icon Georges St-Pierre

Yoel Romero

Yoel Romero kicks Robert Whittaker. Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

The UFC does not have a monopoly on the MMA scene during the weekend of March 6-8, as Invicta Fighting Championships returns to the stage with a title bout of its own. Lisa Verzosa will confront Julija Stoliarenko for the vacant bantamweight championship in the Invicta Phoenix Series 3 headliner on Friday at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. The event streams in its entirety to UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Follow Mandatory on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.