UFC 248: Israel Adesanya admits to lacklustre fight against Yoel Romero

Kiwi UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya admits his performance at UFC 248 wasn't the best of his career, but believes the blame for the lacklustre fight lies with Yoel Romero. 

Both fighters were met with continual boos from the crowd, as Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight title against Romero via unanimous decision at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on Sunday (NZ time). 

Nigeria-born Adesanya, 30, fought smart, using his kickboxing background to scoring consistently with powerful kicks to Romero's lead leg.

Israel Adesanya with his middleweight belt.
Israel Adesanya with his middleweight belt. Photo credit: Getty

But Romeo never seemed interested in fighting. The Cuban fighter essentially stood in the center of the Octagon while refusing to engage for the first two minutes.

Even referee Dan Miragliotta warned both about their timidity and urged them to pick up the pace.

"It's not the fight I wanted to have," Adesanya said at his post fight news conference. 

"I had a different vision for how this fight was gonna end, but it takes two to tango. I can't force a guy to fight.

"I can force a guy to make mistakes, which I did by exposing his legs later on. But for me, if a guy stands there for the first two minutes and has his hands up, am I supposed to risk my belt and get clipped by him?

"That was really bizarre. I might as well have just used a training dummy at my gym as my sparring partner. It was just really bizarre because I was expecting a little bit more."

Romero, a freestyle wrestling silver medallist at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, was equally critical of Adesanya for turning the fight into "a running match". 

"It's impossible to fight against a ghost," said Romero. "I'm gonna start training for track or cross-country because obviously [Adesanya] is a cross-country and a track star, so I need to catch up to his sport.

"I feel that the fight game now is whoever runs the fastest is the winner."

The fight was Adesanya's first title defence since winning the middleweight belt against Robert Whiitaler last October in Melbourne. 

Adesanya's next fight will likely be against Brazilian Paulo Costa later this year.

Both fighters would head into the contest with unbeaten records.