Nigerian-born Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight in a rather unconventional manner. The 30-year-old won unanimously over Yoel Romero on Saturday night.
The battle between the budding star and the veteran started in a rather odd fashion with none of them trading blows or kicks in the first two minutes of the encounter.
The performance from both sides forced boos from different sections of the crowd. So disgusting was it that the referee Dan Miragliotta turned to the pair and ordered ‘Come on, fight’.
After Israel Adesanya retained the belt, he admitted it was an odd contest.
‘It was an odd fight, but at least I did what I had to do…’ said the Stylebender.
‘Look at his leg, he’s going to be limping… I did what I had to do to win that fight.’
When Adesanya was asked by commentator Joe Rogan what he expected from his 42-year-old opponent, the Nigerian said:
‘He plays the game in lulls, he does what he can to lull you into a false sense of security.’
Adesanya first lifted the UFC 243 belt in October when he defeated Robert Whittaker. He didn’t disappoint at the Octagon this time either, picking up where he left from at Melbourne. Could it be Romero’s rustiness having lost to Whittaker twice earlier or was Israel actually better?
Adesanya who paid tribute to his New Zealand and Nigerian heritage, walked into the arena with women on either side of him lining up petals of flower at his feet.
In contrasting fashion, Romero walked into Octagon with only a little fanfare as he was more interested in claiming the middleweight belt.
The former Olympic medalist had reviousky lost a battle for the interim title to Whittaker in 2018.
Only minutes after watching what was heralded as one of the greatest fights in UFC history – Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk – the crowd almost naturally supported Romero until Adesanya proved to have more intent.