UFC 248: Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero - Live updates

[Live commentary has finished]

Main event: UFC middleweight title: Israel Adesanya (18-0) v Yoel Romero (13-4)
Result: Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision (48-47 x 2, 49-46)

Thoughts: Not a great fight ... not even close to a great fight, but Izzy did what he had to do to win the fight and retain his title. Up next - Paulo Costa - the hard-hitting Brazilian. 

Round 5 - A big round for either guy here could win the fight. High kick parried by Yoel and he replies with a big right but Izzy avoids damage. Izzy whiffs with a jab but lands alow kick. Leg kick lands for Izzy and avoids a big counter fro Yoel. Body punch lands for Izzy. Romero misses a left. Izzy avoids a takedown and lands a big leg kick in reply. Jab lands for Izzy and a straight left. Leg kick lands for Yoel and a jab. Straight left lands for Yoel but Izzy avoids a charge from Yoel. Left hand lands for Yoel. jab lands for Izzy. Head kick lands for Izzy but Romero shakes it off. Yoel lands a leg kick but Izzy circles out anad lands a hard leg kick himself. Big right lands for Romero as the fight ends. Newshub score: Romero 10-9 but the fight to Adesanya 48-47 but it's very close.

Round 4 - Front kick to the body lands for Izzy followed by a leg kick. Izzy lands a left but Romero lands a front kick to the body. Lead right hook parried by Romero. Right hand lands for Izzy and a leg kick lands. Izzy circles out of some forward pressure from Romero. Izzy sticking that jab out but Romero is complaining about a poke in the eye and referee calls a halt to the action for now so Romero can recover. Ronero shoots and gets the takedown but Izzy is straight back up. Izzy not engaging now ... looking for an opening that's not there. Jab lands for Izzy. Romero whiffs with a big left hook and Izzy lands a counter.Leg kick lands for Izzy. Right hand lands for Yoel. Izzy slips backing away from Romero's charge. Big leg kick lands for Izzy. Jab lands for Izzy and a right and Izzy avoids a takedown and a heavby right as the round ends. Hard to score. Newshub score: Adesanya 10-9 but that was a super close.

Round 3 - Romero picking up the pace a bit at the start of the round with pressure but then he backs away. Izzy misses a high kick but lands a left lef kick. Lead left lands for Izzy, Romero misses the counter. Head kick fails to land for Izzy. Leg kick lands for Izzy but Romero replies.  Leg kick inside lands for Yoel. Izzy whiffs on a head kick but lands an outside leg kick. Izzy gets out of the way of a big left. Jab lands for Izzy but Yoel lands a body kick. Front kick to the body lands for Izzy and he follows with a body kick ... a hard one. Front kick to the face lands for Izzy. Spinning kick to the body lands for Izzy and a stiff jab. Another stiff jab lands for Izzy but he whiffs on a head kick. Newshub score: Adesanya 10-9

Round 2 - Body kick lands for Izzy to start the round. Overhand counter left lands for Yoel but Izzy shakes it off. Izzy misses a high kick. Head kick lands for Izzy but Romero is fine. Flurry from Izzy but nothing lands. Leg kick lands for Izzy. Jab lands for Izzy and a leg kick. Romero has zero output since the opening strike of the round. Romero with the rush and lands a big left that backs Izzy up .... Izzy recovers quickly but he needs a significant strike to get that back. Jab from Izzy. Romero misses with an overhand left. Leg kick lands and a head kick that Yoel blocks. Izzy lands a counter left that may steel the round. Newshub score: Adesanya 10-9

Round 1 - Romero standing still in the middle of the cage not engaging. Izzy shadow boxing. One minute in and no strikes thrown or landed. Outside leg kick from Izzy lands. Feints from Izzy but Romero not biting .... Izzy lands an outside leg kick but Romero replies with one of his own. Izzy with a parried head kick. Romero counters with a big overhand left but izzy rolls with it. Leg kick lands for Izzy. High kick misses  for Yoel. Flying kick to the body lands for Yoel. Weird round....neither guy wanting to get off first. I have no idea how ti score that but Romero landed the most significant strike but maybe a draw? Newshub score: Romero 10-9

6:59pm - Here we go folks.

6:55pm - Bruce Buffer is amped up as he rings out "It's Time" as we are seconds from fight time. 

6:52pm - Izzy coming out paying homage to his traditional Nigerian roots .... it's very cool. 

6:51pm - Amd now it's the champs turn - Izzy making his way to the Octagon with the Nigerian flag proudly showing on the big screen. 

6:49pm - Romero makes his way to the cage .... he looks super relaxed and confident and he should be given his elite level skillset.

6:44pm - Good luck to Izzy and Yoel in following that - one of the greatest fights in UFC history and an early contender for Fight of the Year. 

Women's strawweight title: Weili Zhang (20-1) v Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3)
Result: Weili Zhang via split decision (48-47 x2, 47-48)

Thoughts: What an amazing fight and I have no issue with the decision with Round 3 being the swing round. They have to run this fight back later this year in my opinion. 


Co-main event time and what a fight it is.

Weili Zhang shocked the world with the demolition of former champ Jessica Andrade last year in China to win the strap. She is a top of the food chain striker with fight ending power.

JJ is the former champ who looked unbeatable until she ran into Rose Namajunas in November 2017 where she lost via first round KO. JJ would lose a close decision in the rematch and has also since dropped a decision to flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. 

But she bounced back last time out witha  dominant win over Michelle Waterson to book the title fight. 

Prepare for war - this should be violent and awesome. 

Round 1 - Feeling out process to start. Neither landing much at a minute through. Leg kick for JJ and a big right hand back Zhang up. Great exchange has both landing but JJ lands a leg kick on the way out. Zhang lands a right and then a leg kick. Right hand lands for Zhang that hurt JJ. Side kick lands for Zhang. Right hand lands for JJ but Zhang lands a counter on the way out. Another close fought exchange that Zhang got the better of and she lands a nioce counter left off a missed leg kick from JJ. Two rights land for JJ - these two girls are throwing down! Newshub score: Zhang 10-9

Round 2 - JJ lands a nice one-two hook to start the round. Inside leg kick lands for Zhang. Leg kick lands for JJ as Zhang misses a left. Left hook just misses for JJ as Zhang shoots but JJ fights it off and reverses to the fence. Zhang has position against the cage bow as she looks for the takedown. Nice knee in the clinch lands for JJ but Zhang lands on the way out with an elbow. Right hand counter lands for Zhang and JJ is in trouble. Head kick lands for Zhang and now she gets the takedown but JJ is back up. Zhang is cut above ger right eye. JJ lands a jab and short left but Zhang is always there with the counter right.Front kick lands fo JJ but she whiffs on an overhand. JJ lands a right but Zhang replies with the counter left. JJ hurts Zhang with a head kick as the round ends. Newshub score: Joanna 10-9

Round 3 - JJ hurt by a short right from Zhang that has her backing up. JJ lands a right but Zhang lands a huge left hook counter but JJ lands a heavy leg kick. Big left from JJ stuns Zhang and throws another left high kick that Zhang parries. Both girls land leg kicks. Counter left lands for  JJ as does an outside leg kick. Zhang looks for the takedown ... JJ defends well but Zhang drags her down eventually. JJ back up and lands an elbow on the seperation. Body kick lands for Zhang and a big right. JJ has a huge bump on her forehead. Zhang coming on strong at the end of the round but JJ lands a heavy left hand - this is the best women's fight I have watched. Newshub score: Joanna 10-9 but it's close

Round 4 - Body kick lands for Zhang and they both land in a close exchange. Left hook lands for JJ but Zhang wobbles JJ with a left hook counter. JJ lands a another left hook. This is one of the best fights I have ever seen. Both girls land big rights and JJ lands a big knee to the skull of Zhang. Leg kick lands for JJ. JJ goes low and high witha  right, left and follows with a left head kick. JJ lands a check left hook. JJ lands a jab but Zhang still walking JJ down. Leg kick lands for JJ. They both land big hooks and JJ is in trouble but she replies with a leg kick. Elbow lands for JJ on the inside and she gets the clinch. Zhang fighting hard to reverse JJ against the cage and she does. Elbow lands for JJ. Left hook lands for JJ and a front kick. Zhang still in this though.Counter left hook lands for JJ but Zhang lands a big right as the round ends. Newshub score: Joanna 10-9 but again close 

Round 5 - Zhang may need a stoppage but the rounds have been super close. Left hook lands for JJ but Zhang replies with one herself. Leg kick for JJ and a short right lands. Zhang there with a long right. JJ lands a good overhand and a left hook counter. JJ hurt again by a left hook and her nose is busted open. Zhang lands a left hook but JJ counters with a right. Left hook from JJ hurts Zhang and another and Zhang is in trouble but she's like a zombie .... no quit in either of these two. Knee in the clinch lands for JJ. Joana is slowing down a bit .... Zhang lands a heavy body kick followed by a leg kick. JJ lands a leg kick ... her face is a mess. Left hook lands for JJ followed by a leg kick. Zhang lands a big right hook but whiffs on a back fist and JJ lands a huge backfist to end one of the greatest fights I have ever seen. Newshub score: Zhang 10-9 but JJ wins the fight 48-47 but it's close.

Lightweight: Beneil Dariush (17-4-1) v Drakkar Klose (11-1-1)
Result: Baneil Dariush via KO Round 1 (1:00) 

Two excellent lightweights about to do battle .... both looking to crack the Top 15 rankings with a win tonight. 

Round 1 - Klose lands a big right hand but Dariush shakes it off. Dariush shoots and gets the takedown....Klose works his way back to the feet but Dariush has the back clinch. Dariush looking for a standing rear naked choke .... Klose fighting hands and shakes off the choke. Klose tries to buckle and shake Dariush out but the Iranian has the hooks in with his legs. Dariush in control here still with the standing back position. Dariush is working hard to lock in that choke but Klose fights it off and he's safe now with 12 second remaining, Round ends. Newshub score: Beneil Dariush 10-9

Round 2 - Inside leg kick lands for Klose .... Dariush with a body kick but it lands slightly low but Klose is fine. Dariush hammered by a huge right hand and Klose is looking for the finish but Dariush lands a haymaker!!!! ... he follows up with two more right hands and a massive left and Klose is out!! Holy S**t that was wild.  Crazy finish.

Welterweight: Neil Magny (21-8) v Li Jingliang (17-5)
Result: Neil Magny via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Magny was on the verge of a UFC title fight in 2017 before a loss to former champ Rafael dos Anjos put those dreams on the shelf.

Magny is 2-1 since that fight and is a super well-rounded fighter.

Li Jianliang is on roll winning seven of his last eight fights with four KO's. 

Round 1 - Magny looking to pressure fight behind his jab but Jingliang lands the first strike with a heavy leg kick. Nice one-two lands for Magny ... Jingliang clinches for the takedown and forces the fight to the fence. Magny fighting hard to prevent the takedown and seperates but Li lands a hige right hand that has Magny backing up. Li in for the kill but Magny with the clinch and takes the fight to the ground. Li breaks free and now he's looking for the takedown and he gets it and has full guard. Magny kicks Li off and we are back standing in the middle. Jab lands for Magny as the round comes to an end. Newshub score: Jingliang 10-9 but it's close

Round 2 - Magny throws up a flying knee of the back of a jab to start the round. Li clinches and is looking to pull the fight to the ground again. Magny seperates and lands a couple short uppercuts but Li is straight back to the clinch .... Magny lifts Li up for a power bomb WWE style but he Li fights off. Magny pushing Li against the fence now and lands a shoulder strike ... ala Conor McGregor. Magny gets the takedown with a leg trip and has the back ... Li is back up quickly but Magny has position. Elbpw on the seperation lands for Li but Magny lands a stiff jab and has the clinch but Li reverses and is looking for the takedown. Magny landing some elbows in close and has the Muay Thai clinch and lands a knee....Magny lighting Li up with strikes and Li is in trouble .... Magny finishes the round on top. Newshub score: Magny 10-9

Round 3 - Jab lands for Magny to open. Lead left hook lands for Li and he follows with a heavy right but Magny is out of range quickly. Li whiffs on a big right as Magny lands a jab. Magny landing the jab at will but Li is still game walking forward. Magny level changes and looks for the takedown but Li has the underhooks and recerses the position. Magny seperates and misses with a big elbow. Double jab lands for Magny. Li misses with a big left hook and Magny lands a big right hand. Left hook lands for Li but Magny clinches. Magny gets the takedown and has half guard .... Li fighting hard to get back up but Magny is all over him battering him with punches .... nothing significant but just overwhelming. Magny has the back now and lands a few more short rights ... Magny unloading now as the fight comes to an end. Newshub score: Magny 10-9 and the fight 29-28

Welterweight: Alex Oliveira (19-2-1) v Max Griffin (15-7)
Result: Alex Oliviera via split decision (29-28 x2 and 28-29)

"Cowboy" Oliveira is a crowd pleasing striker who has fought the likes of Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit and Gunnar Nelson.

Griffin has lost three of his last four so is looking to right that skid this afternoon against the Brazilian. 

Round 1 - Griffin charges out of the gate and throws a couple of wild overhands. Nothing landing for either fighter but the pace is hot .... Cowboy lands a right that gets Griffins attention. Front kick to the body lands for Cowboy as does a short right uppercut. Griffin lands a huge right that hurts Cowboy who clinches. Full guard for Griffin on the canvas. Griffin working nicely on top and has moved to half guard with Cowboy's head up against the fence. Griffin in complete control on top. Cowboy back up but Griffin takes him back down ... Cowboy back up and throws a flying knee to end the round. Close. Newshub score: Griffin 10-9

Round 2 - Nice low kick buckles Griffin and now Cowboy opens up a cut to the right eye of Griffin. Nice jab lands for Griffin and he closes the distance and clinches....Oliveira reverses the position and is now looking for the takedown against the fence. They seperate and the doctor will have a look at the cut. Leg kick lands again for Cowboy .... he has a big striking advantage it appears. Outside low kick and inside leg kick lands for Cowboy and he follows with a nasty right hand the Griffin parries. Stiff jab for Cowboy lands....Griffin in for the shot but Cowboy reverses and has Griffin against the cage. Double jab lands for Cowboy. Griffin's face is a mess. Takedown attempt from Cowboy but Griffin defends. Newshub score: Oliveira 10-9

Round 3 - Griffin is desperate for the takedown to start the round. Cowboy figting hard to prevent the fight hitting the canvas as Griffin pushes him against the cage. Cowboy seperates and now Cowboy looks for the takedown and gets it. Cowboy gets the back mount which Griffin fights out of. Half guard for Oliviera and Griffin is looking done. He has blood all over his face. Full mount for Cowboy but Griffin reverses and he has top control now. Griffin to side control and he's landing a few shots. Oliviera looks spent now. Couple hammer fists land for Griffin....both guys covered in Griffin's blood....ewww. 50 seconds on the clock with Griffin in control on top...this round could go either way. Griffin land multiple shots from the top as he tries to steal the round as the fight ends. Newshub score: Oliveira 10-9 and the fight 29-28 but it's super close and we could have some crazy scorecards.

4:12pm - Yoel Romero is in the building.

4:08pm - TAB Odds for Main Event: Romero $3.10, Adesanya $1.33 for the win.

3:55pm - The champ is here!

3:52pm - There is a halt to the action at the T-Mobile Arena ..... main card kicks off just after 4pm.

3:46pm - Dan 'Hangman' Hooker is in the house.

Bantamweight: Sean O'Malley (10-0) v Jose Quinonez (8-3)
Result: Sean O'Malley via TKO Round 1 (2:02)

O'Malley is one of the hottest prospects in the sport and is undefeated in 10 professional fights.

He's had a two-year absence from the sport after testing positive for a banned substance.

Quinonez has won five of his last six but this is the biggest fight of his career. 

Round 1 - Front kick to the body from O'Malley drops Quinonez to open the fight. O'Malley establishing range with kicks on the aggressive Quinonez. Spinning back kick to the body lands for O'Malley. Hard right kick to the body lands for O'Malley and then he drops him with a head kick and follows up with punches and the fight is over! Just Like That!

Lightweight: Mark Madsen (9-0) v Austin Hubbard (11-3)
Result: Mark Madsen via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Madsen is a three-time Olympic wrestler for Denmark - he has the best wrestling credentials in the lightweight division, and I include Khabib Nurmagomedov in that conversation. Hubbard is a power-punching striker with four KO's in his 11 wins. 

Round 1 - Hubbard comes out striking and lands a nice body kick. Masden shoots and takes the fight to the floor with a belly to belly suplex ala Brock Lesnar. Hubbard fights back up but Madsen has his back. Hubbard seperates and we are back to the centre of the cage. Madeson closes the distance and scores a takedown with a body lock. Side control now for Madsen. Madsen looking for a darce choke but Hubbard is out ... nope Madsen switches to a Japanease neck tie but again Hubbard survives. Round ends. Newshub score: Madsen 10-9

Round 2 - Madsen in on the single leg and pulls the fight to the ground for the third time. Madsen postures from full guard...Hubbard rolls and Madsen has the back now. Hubbard back to his feet but Madsen straight back to the clinch and scores another takedown. Madsen controlling the action on the ground looking for submissions but Hubbard's defence is good and he's back to the feet. Leg kick lands to the calf for Hubbard. Now Hubbard lands an inside leg kick.Hubbard looks for a knee to the body to end the round. Newshub score: Madsen 10-9

Round 3 - Hubbard out quickly and fires a few strikes in Madsen's direction....Hubbard lands a big knee but Madsen gets a takedown. Hubbard back to the feet straight away and now he's stalking Madsen and lands a huge right hand that hurts Madsen. Madsen shoots and has the clinch position against the cage. Madssen is out of gas as Hubbard lands another knee to the body. Uppercut lands for Hubbard as does a left to the body that has Madsen on the retreat. Madsen gets the clinch and forces Hubbard to the canvas. Hubbard back up and looking for the big shot to end the fight but Madsen staying calm. Flying knee lands for Hubbard and Madsen is in trouble. Madsen with a big elbow and another knee to the body as the round and fight ends. Newshub score: Hubbard 10-9 but Madsen wins the fight 29-28

Middleweight: Rodolfo Vieira (6-0) v Saparbek Safarov (9-2)
Result: Rodolfo Vieira via submission (arm triangle choke) Round 1 (2:58) 

Vieira is a six-time Brazilian ju-jitsu world champion so if this fight hits the floor it's goodnight Mr Safarov. 

Round 1 - Safarov hurts Vieira with a big right hand but the Brazilian shoots and scores a huge power takedown. He has the back which he turns to half guard. Vieira rolls for the back again and has full back mount. Safarov rolls and now Vieira has the top control. He shifts to half guard and locks in the arm triangle choke and that folks is all she wrote. Safarov taps to end the fight. 

Middleweight: Gerald Meerschaert (29-12) vs. Deron Winn (6-1)
Result: Gerald Meerschaert via submission (rear naked choke) Round 3 (2:13)

Winn is the protege of former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, but lost his UFC debut in a razor close fight against Darren Stewart. Meerschaert is a veteran - this being his 10th Octagon appearence. He is 5-4 in the UFC. 

Round 1 - Early shot to the cup of Winn forces a halt to the action. Winn taking his time - he has five minutes. Big left hook lands for Winn but Meerschaert fights it off. Takedown for Winn lands but he stands back up. Uppercut lands for Winn but Gerald replies with a kick to the body. Leg kick lands for Winn. Left hook lands for Gerald but Winn replies with a straight right. Left hook lands for Winn ... Meerschaert wobbles but recovers quickly. Left hook lands but Winn replies witha  counter right. Close round but I'll give Winn the nod. Newshub score: Winn 10-9

Round 2 - Lead left hook lands for Meerschaert but Winn lands a left to the body. Winn whifs on a big right hand but he lands a nice jab up the middle. Front kick to the body lands for Gerald. Inside leg kick lands for Winn and he scores a takedown but again he lets Gerald up. Body kick lands for Gerald. Winn whiffs in two big hooks .... Gerald lands a jab on the counter. Left hook lands for Winn but Gerald hurts Winn with a hook to the body. Another body shot lands for Gerald. Winn is hurt as Gerald lands another hook to the body. Newshub score: Meerschaert 10-9

Round 3 - Meerschaert lands a jab. Winn over the top with a left hook lands and then a right hand hurts Gerald who is backing up. Winn whifs on a big right. Winn hurt badly from an uppercut from Gerald and he's looking for the kill. Winn backing up now and is dropped with a left. Meerschaert follows Winn to the floor, gets the back and locks in the rear naked choke....Winn taps and the fight is over.

Featherweight: Giga Chikadze (8-2) vs. Jamall Emmers (17-4)
Result: Giga Chikadze via split decision (28-29, 29-28 and 29-28) 
Thoughts: Wow! Round two was close I guess, but feel Emmers did enough to win that round. The first and third rounds were fairly clear either way. 

Round 1 - Giga a world class kickboxer showing off his skills early with a heavy leg kick and a counter right that drops Emmers. The American straight back up and recovers quickly. Giga lands a nice flying body kick .... the Georgian is controlling the distance with ease. Emmers lands a right but he looks a little confused as Giga misses a spinning head kick to end the round. Newshub score: Chikadze 10-9

Round 2 - Emmers lands a nice right hand off the back of a knee to the body in close. Nice right-left hook then body kick combo lands for Chikadze but Emmers closes the distance and scores the takedown and he has half guard in the middle of the cage. Chikadze bucks and reverses position to Emmers guard .... the fighters are back up as Emmers kicks off. Stop in the action - Emmers was poked in the eye. Left hook from Chikadze lands and hurts Emmers who shoots but well stuffed by the Georgian. Knee to the body in close lands for Emmers .... Chikadze slowing down a bit. head kick misses for Emmers as the roudn ends. Newshub score: Emmers 10-9

Round 3 - Stiff right hand lands for Emmers right out of the gate but Chikadze shakes it off. Emmers looking very confident now .... Emmers lands a right, then a straight left but Chikadze replies with a couple loaded up rights. Stiff jab lands for Emmers but he misses on a loaded up right hook. Emmers avoids a combo, counters with a right and shoots for a takedown which he secures with 30 seconds on the clock. Chikadze throws up a triangle but Emners fights it off and lands a couple shots from the top as the fight ends. Newshub score: Emmers 10-9 and the fight 29-28

Bantamweight: Danaa Batgerel (6-2) vs. Guido Cannetti (8-4)
Result: Danaa Batgerel via KO Round 1 (3:01)

Welcome to the first prelim fight of the afternoon ..... two guys I've never heard of and I watched a LOT of fights. 

Round 1 - Batgerel finishes the fight midway through the first round with a beautiful left hook counter that drops Cannetti ..... a few follow up punches and the referee stops the fight. 

Hello folks and welcome to live commentary of Israel Adesanya's first UFC middleweight title defence against Yoel Romero.

The Nigerian-born Kiwi claimed his title at UFC 243 in Melbourne last October with a stunning knockout win over Australian Robert Whittaker.

UFC 248: Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero - Live updates
Photo credit: Getty
UFC 248: Israel Adesanya v Yoel Romero - Live updates

Romero is on a two-fight losing skid but with Whittaker and fellow contender Paulo Costa on the shelf, the Cuban was the logical choice for "The Last Stylebender's" first challenger.

The Cuban is regarded as the measuring stick of the division but has come up short in two previous tilts at the title - against Whittaker.

"The Soldier of God" holds a 17 win, 4 loss record including wins over former UFC champions Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida.

Adesanya is undefeated in 18 fights, seven inside the UFC and has wins over Kelvin Gastelum, UFC great Anderson Silva and Whittaker. 


UFC Middleweight Title: Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero 

UFC Women's straweight title: Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose

Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang

Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin


Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez

Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard

Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn

Giga Chikadze vs. Jamall Emmers

Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti

Pre-fight banter: Adesanya can be the 'greatest of all time' - coach

Mixed martial arts savant Eugene Bareman has never shied away from making a bold statement.

Before Israel Adesanya's UFC debut against Rob Wilkinson back in February 2018, the City Kickboxing boss unflinchingly predicted his star student would "without a doubt" become middleweight champion one day.

With that box ticked, Bareman - after a trademark prolonged pause for thought - offers up a new, even loftier prophecy as a replacement.

"I'm going to say Israel can, if he so chooses, be the most dominant middleweight world champion of all time," Bareman tells Newshub.

"Up there with, obviously, Anderson Silva, who's not a person I like to reference, because of his sketchy past." 

Adesanya and coach Eugene Bareman
Adesanya and coach Eugene Bareman Photo credit: Getty

Brazilian great Silva is considered the benchmark by which - not only the division - but all world champions are measured.

Although his legacy was tarnished by a one-year drugs ban, Silva's seven-year reign as champion, which included 16 consecutive wins, was a staggering streak of dominance that exists in a galaxy of its own.

Adesanya defeated his long-time idol by unanimous decision at UFC 234, albeit during the inevitable downward career slope of 'The Spider'. Regardless, the torch has undeniably been passed, especially given Adesanya's success since.

"Most title defences, that's how you solidify yourself as a great champion," says Bareman.

The first step on that epic journey begins in Las Vegas on Sunday (NZ time), when Adesanya faces his maiden title defence against Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 248.

The 43-year-old Cuban stepped in as the challenger, after a bicep injury forced Brazilian Paulo Costa to make way at the front of the queue.

Third-ranked Romero may enter his bout with Adesanya off two losses, but his reputation precedes him. The former wrestling world champion and Olympic silver medallist is cut from a unique cloth, literally born and raised for a life of sanctioned combat. 

He may never have held a UFC title, but a victory over Romero - a freakish athlete with the physique of a Batman villain - carries a special brand of gravitas.

"This is a different human being," says Bareman.

"This isn't a Paulo Costa or a [fellow contender] Jared Cannonier, this is a person who was born and then bred to do this. There's such a big difference there.

"This is a person who came up in communist Cuba, and - as early as possible - identified as an athlete and bred towards wrestling. This is a man whose entire life, he's been bred for this. 

"He's basically a thoroughbred. Fighting one of these guys is a lot different to fighting someone who's picked it up in their teenage years or early adulthood."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06:  Israel Adesanya of Nigeria celebrates after his knockout victory over Robert Whittaker of New Zealand in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 243 event at Marvel Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

The 17-4 Romero obviously has losses to his name, but in each of those four defeats, you could make a legitimate case that the result went the wrong way.

Combined with the fact that he's never been stopped in the UFC, and a huge carrot dangles before the undefeated Adesanya and his team.

"It's not the challenge of beating him, because he's been beaten quite a bit," says Bareman. "It's the challenge of beating him in a particular way that excites us - and that's overwhelmingly convincingly. 

"Alex Volkanovski v Max Holloway, shutout style. Whitewash - that's what we want to do. 

"It'd be a massive statement, because nobody's been able to do it.

"We just think that there are things there that we, in particular, can take advantage of that nobody else has, because they haven't seen it or they haven't been that athlete, or whatever it may be.

"We just think there's a path there for us to show the world something different and that's what interests us about this fight."

Unwilling to elaborate any further for obvious reasons, you get the sense that Bareman has relished every moment of plotting Romero's downfall.

And with the seemingly unstoppable momentum that his stable of City Kickboxing fighters carry off another 'three-peat' at UFC Auckland, his cautious confidence is completely understandable.

"It's a puzzle that nobody else has been able to convincingly solve," he grins. "But we might not be able to do that, we might just scrape through. 

"That's the great thing about fighting, that's why it's so intriguing. 

"It could be another fight like Gastelum, where it comes down to the wire. We have to be prepared for anything, we're not under any illusions that were going to run away with the fight."

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 13:  (R-L) Israel Adesanya kicks Kelvin Gastelum in their interim middleweight championship bout during the UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 05:  UFC interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya of New Zealand poses for the media during the UFC seasonal press conference at T-Mobile Arena on July 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Images - Getty

And for all the talk of a potential super-fight with light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Bareman believes that - in many respects - Romero presents the higher degree of difficulty for Adesanya.

The American - arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time - and Adesanya have traded jabs in interviews and on social media since the eve of UFC 243.

"[Jones] isn't a different breed of man, this is just a man with all the frailties any man has. 

"Yoel's a different breed of man. Jon's just a guy that makes a lot of mistakes and tries to make up for them.  

"In many aspects, [Romero] is a much bigger challenge than Jon." 

Jones says Adesanya is "scared". Adesanya says he'll "hunt Jones down". 

Bareman says, when it comes to raw fighting ability, there's no comparison between them.

"Skill for skill, pound for pound, Jon can't even touch Israel. If they were naturally the same size, it's no contest.

"Jon is a challenge, not necessarily because of his skills, but because he's a big man... he's huge. His biggest advantage is his physicality. 

"On a skill-for-skill basis, it wouldn't be comparable, at least not for people that knows what they're talking about."

Few coaches - if any - construct a better fight blueprint than Bareman these days and taking into account how fallible 'Bones' has looked in recent outings, the idea of Adesanya beating him doesn't seem unreasonable, even at heavyweight.

But that's a conversation for another day, once Adesanya has his chance to clean out an ever-increasing list of middleweight contenders.

Until then, Bareman will be in his lab and you can almost guarantee he already has the gameplan for Jones brewing. 

But how does he ensure he's always improving as a coach, the same way his fighters are?

"It's tons of watching tape, its experimentations too, but it's talking to other knowledgeable people as well.

"We wouldn't be successful, if I didn't have a bunch of guys like that, who I could get in the trenches with and start bouncing ideas around with, and that really opens minds and opens up creativity."

Expect to see some of the duo's finest work yet on display at the T-Mobile Arena, Vegas, this weekend.