Adesanya On Making Romero Fight Look Easy & Fighting Jones At HW
When it was revealed that Paulo Costa had gone under the knife to address a bicep injury, the UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya could have waited for him to return. However, instead of choosing to wait, the new 185lbs champion decided to defend his title against Yoel Romero in the meantime.
Although the UFC weren’t keen on the fight initially, saying it doesn’t sell, ‘The Last Stylebender’ soon talked them into the idea. Speaking at the UFC 246 post fight press conference, UFC president Dana White said that Adesanya was a ‘bad ass’ for wanting to fight Romero when no one else wanted to and while he didn’t need to fight him.
The two will headline UFC 248, which goes down on March 7th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Speaking to Submission Radio (as transcribed by MMA Fighting), Adesanya said that he alone will sell the fight.
“It was hard to sell it to [the UFC] because they were like, we can’t give a title shot to a guy who’s had numerous title shots, who’s been known for little vet moves or cheating “AKA”, and he’s just a guy that they didn’t think they could sell it. But I told them I’d sell it, I’d be the one to put it on. Because he’s the guy that people had been hoping [would beat me]. It’s not really about him. They’re not coming to watch him, they’re coming to watch me because they’re hoping he’s the one to take me out. Cause from the get go, from my first UFC fight, all they ever said was, ‘Feed him to Romero,’ and, ‘He’ll take him down and it’s over’.
“That’s what all the casuals have felt, that’s what all the experts have felt. So, I just feel like he’s one of those guys, I think he’s one of those guys that he’s… I mean, he scares Darren Till. I don’t see it, but yeah, he’s the guy that scares a lot of people. And no one’s asked to fight him, so I’m doing something different.”
And come fight night, Adesanya plans on doing something no one else has managed to do, make beating Romero look easy.
“I’ve had some tough tests. Right now, I still think Kelvin has been my toughest fight so far physically. Mentally, Anderson has been my toughest fight so far. But, we’ll see. That’s yet to be said. I don’t think he’s gonna be. Like, the way the match is shaping up, I don’t really think he’s gonna be. I think he’s gonna be quite… not easy, but I’ll make it look easy.
“I said that about the Robert fight, cause everyone was counting me out. They said, ‘man, this is it, nah, you can’t f*** with Robert’, this and that. And I said I’ll make it look easy. And what did I do? I made it look easy. I just feel that way for this one as well. I don’t think… Yoel is a guy who’s fought someone who just stays in front of him. He stays in front of him, and yeah, he likes a punching bag, and that I am not.”
Adesanya also pointed out that Romero hasn’t won a fight since he won his UFC debut on the same night. On February 11th, 2018 at UFC 221, Israel beat Rob Wilkinson, while Yoel beat Luke Rockhold.
Since then, Adesanya has fought six times. Winning all six, including Kelvin Gastelum for the interim title and Robert Whittaker for the undisputed UFC middleweight title, in his last two fights. While Romero has fought twice, losing a split decision to Whittaker and a razor close unanimous decision to Paulo Costa.
“His last win was my UFC debut,” Adesanya stated. Think about that. Let that sink in. And I said, I haven’t been here for a long time, I’ve only been here for two years. His last win was my UFC debut. He’s a guy that – even that fight, it was for the interim title, right? He didn’t make weight. He could have spent the extra hours or whatever time is given to make the weight. He chose not to because he decided, or his team decided they’d take the fine, and if they win they’ll still get the shot at the title anyway.
“These are tactics, these are moves that they do. So yeah, he’s a guy… I mean, he’s lost his last three out of four. He’s had two, three different title shots. F***, come on. I’m a nice guy. This could be a tax write off for charity.”
The subject then changed from Romero to the UFC lightweight champion, Jon Jones. The two have been going back and forth on social media and in interviews, for almost a year. But while Adesanya is keen to move up to 205lbs to face ‘Bones’, he intents to clear out his own division first.
“I’ve said it, cause a lot of people are already like, ‘Let’s go to 205, let’s face the champ. For me, I’m like, just give me a second. I’m only two years in the game. That’s one thing a lot of people are forgetting, I’ve only been here two years. I could have been in the UFC a long time ago, but we took our time so we could properly prepare and not be another stat, another rise and fall superstar, or whatever.
“So, I’m doing my bit by, you know, I’ve already defended my belt once. I won it in Atlanta, I defended it in Melbourne. I want to defend it like three more times this year. And if I could get one more early next year, that would be cool. And then I’ll step up and fight whoever I want to fight at 205. But yeah, I’m just – like you said, it’s paying homage to the old school, doing right by the division. Winning the belt, defending the belt, and then stepping up. Not just like, win the belt, step up and then hold up the division. The division was already held up a long time cause of Robert [Whittaker], so I don’t want to be that guy.”
Taking to social media last year, Jones said that “By the time this kid gets his confidence together I’ll probably already be in the heavyweight division.” Adesanya however, says he doesn’t care about weight classes.
“What did he say? I saw something on Instagram that by the time he goes to heavyweight the fight will be – who gives a fuck about weight? I’ve never given a f*** about weight. Since when? It’s never been an issue for me. I’ve been a heavyweight in boxing, in kickboxing. I’ll do it in again in MMA. So, it’s never been an issue for me. He can try and run to heavyweight, but I’ll chase him down. I’ll hunt him down if I have to.
“Let him go to heavyweight. Right now, I’m working at middleweight. If he wants to come, he can skip the line if he comes down to middleweight. I’ve said that already. But I’m sure he can’t do that because his frame won’t let him. So, let me do my work, shut the fuck up and I’ll come see you when it’s time.”
How does Israel Adesanya get on against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 and Jon Jones?