Helwani Show: Adesanya good to go, Yoel Romero preparing to hear ‘And new!’


Watch a replay of the show here.

UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya said Monday that the circular mark on his left forearm is just “a little scrape” and that his title defense against Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 248 on Saturday is not in jeopardy.

“It’s just a little something, a little scrape of myself,” he said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “That s— happens, but whatever.”

When asked what it is, Adesanya resonded: “A little something. I’ve never had staph. I never will. I’ve had malaria damn near eight times. I don’t know what else I’ve had. Like you think staph’s going to f— with me?”

Adesanya said whatever is on his arm hasn’t affected him and that he didn’t take any antibiotics.

“I looked at it and went ‘no,’ and it went away,” he said.

Adesanya, who trains in New Zealand, arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday. He doesn’t subscribe to the theory some fighters share about arriving one day early for every hour of difference in the time zones.

“My body’s already used to the beautiful Vegas time zone, the beautiful Vegas weather,” he said. “It’s a little chilly right now, but my body’s already used to it, acclimated because I’ve been here so many times. Like for example, if I fought in New York, I’d have to go maybe 2 ½ weeks in advance just because my body’s not used to that yet.”

Adesanya teased about what kind of walkout fans can expect Saturday night. His choreographed walkout before he beat Robert Whittaker for the title at UFC 243 in Australia on October 5, 2019 went viral.

UFC president Dana White is not a fan of elaborate walkouts, and he pointed to the controversy surrounding Deontay Wilder’s walkout before his loss to Tyson Fury on Feb. 22 as a reason why.

“The UFC can shoot themselves in their own foot, the staff,” Adesanya said. “Because you know they said, ‘No,’ to my walkout initially, right? I’m just like, ‘Trust me, this is my show, 50,000-plus in my backyard, or close to my backyard. I’m going to do it my way or no way.’

“So they just need to like listen and trust me. I know what I’m doing with this.”

So what about Saturday?

“You’ll see,” he said. “I plead the fifth.

“I wasn’t going to do anything, but the universe spoke to me … so something might happen, something might not, depending.”

And new? Yoel Romero is prepared

Yoel Romero appeared sporting a black Miami Marlins cap with a special message in white print on the side: “And new.”

“Every time they give me the hat,” Romero said, “I win.”

Perhaps bad news for Israel Adesanya, who will defend the UFC middleweight title against Romero on Saturday night.

Romero said he’s confident that he can make weight for the UFC 248 main event, which has been a major issue for the muscular Cuban. He missed weight twice for UFC title fights, both in 2018.

Romero said that he’s 198 pounds, 13 over the middleweight limit of 185 pounds for championship bouts. That’s a positive sign, according to Romero, who said he’s ahead of schedule in his weight cut. He’s typically around 202 pounds on the Monday of a fight week.

Romero believes making weight in Las Vegas on Friday morning shouldn’t be a problem.

“You know what I do? Training, that’s the difference,” Romero said. “I have time for training camp. That’s it. There’s no excuses. The two times I missed weight, I tried to [make weight], but I know I can do it. … I don’t think about my weight for the fight. I’m thinking about the time for training camp. You need to lose your weight in training camp.”

Demetrious Johnson has no problem if UFC closes flyweight division



Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson analyzes an issue he saw with Joseph Benavidez throwing an overhand right vs. Deiveson Figueiredo.

There’s been speculation that Saturday’s main event in Norfolk, Virginia, might well have been the final entry in the twisted history of the UFC men’s flyweight division. Deiveson Figueiredo’s second-round knockout of Joseph Benavidez was exhilarating but at the same time anticlimactic, because the Brazilian had missed weight the day before, making him ineligible to win the belt.

If the UFC does opt to seize the moment, with the title vacant, and do away with the 125-pound class, that would surely be a sad day for the man who reigned for six of the division’s eight years, wouldn’t it?

“No, not at all,” Demetrious Johnson said matter-of-factly Monday.

Johnson won the 2012 tournament to crown an inaugural flyweight champion and reigned until he was upset by Henry Cejudo in 2018. Later that year “Mighty Mouse” moved on to One Championship in an unprecedented trade that brought Ben Askren to the UFC. Now Johnson is preparing for an April 10 challenge of One champion Adriano Moraes.

If the UFC does shut down its 125-pound division, Johnson would welcome more competition to his new promotional home. He also sees Bellator, the PFL and Rizin as potential landing spots. And those who stay with the UFC could fight at 135 pounds.

“There’s a place for everyone to compete,” he said.

Johnson did find Saturday’s fight sad in a couple of ways.

For Figueiredo, it was an opportunity wasted. “You’ve got two jobs as an athlete: make weight and fight,” Johnson said. “That’s it.”

Regarding Benavidez, Johnson was disappointed. “I’m a huge fan of Joseph Benavidez,” he said. “We’ve shared the cage multiple times. We saw concerts together. We went to Australia together. I grew up watching Joseph.”

It was Benavidez whom Johnson defeated by split decision back in 2012 to become champion. During the promotional buildup to that fight, they had attended a Coldplay concert together while on a media tour. Less than two years later, Johnson won a rematch by knockout. It took Benavidez six years to get back to a title fight.

Johnson recognized the magnitude of that, which made the finish hard to watch. “When Joseph took that last shot, oof, you could see the energy go through him, from his chin, his shoulders, his back. And he falls flat. I’m like, damn.”

Felder recovering from UFC Auckland



Paul Felder breaks down his fighting future in the UFC and discusses some of the medical issues he’s had from a loss to Dan Hooker at UFC Fight Night.

Paul Felder was battered and bruised in his split-decision loss to Dan Hooker in Auckland, New Zealand, on Feb. 22. Felder suffered a serious eye injury and had to be brought to a hospital, where he once again ran into Hooker after the fight.

Felder recalled his recovery time in New Zealand on the show Monday.

“It’s been a good recovery. Obviously I had to stay in Auckland for a few extra days to have my eye looked at. There were a couple of little fractures in the orbital, and they always want it to be safe before they send you off flying 20 hours to get back to Philadelphia.

“My leg is still really sore, but the swelling is healing up there. The other crazy thing that happened is that I ended up getting Rhabdo[mylosis] from that fight. It’s a condition where your muscles begin to actually break down and leak into your bloodstream, producing more myoglobin and it wears on your kidneys and turns your urine Coca-Cola-colored.

“I went to the hospital for all of that other stuff, and I went and I had to take a pee at the hospital before I sat there for hours, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ And I knew what it was right away — I had heard of this disorder from CrossFit athletes and things like that — guys that just kind of push it to the limit. I had to stay a little longer to make sure my kidneys were functioning correctly.

“It’s pretty quick. They basically just flush your system, flush your kidneys. They gave me like five bags of IV, all, of course, administered in a hospital and under the watchful eye of USADA. … One of these days I’m going to fight and not end up in the ER.”

Spencer says now is the time for a Nunes fight

Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night card in Norfolk, Virginia, was a showcase for two women chasing a shot at Amanda Nunes and the UFC women’s featherweight championship. Megan Anderson had a highlight reel one-punch knockout of Norma Dumont, and after a one-fight buffer, Felicia Spencer earned a first-round TKO via referee stoppage with ground and pound.

In Spencer’s mind, she did everything she had to do to line herself up to fight Nunes for the belt next, largely because she holds one key advantage of Anderson — she beat Anderson by first-round submission last May.

“I didn’t think that it was going to be such a big debate, to be honest,” Spencer told Helwani. “It kind of surprised me after the fact. … I think it’s pretty obvious — I beat Megan less than a year ago. … I’m a fan of Megan. I think she’ll get a title shot. I’ll give her a title shot next. When I’m the champion, I’ll give her the rematch at that point. I think I earned it.”

Although she was aware that Anderson had put on a strong performance of her own, Spencer was already in the zone and focused on her own fight to come.

“To me, it was just a matter of showing up, doing my job impressively — which I think I did — and taking my shot at the title next. … I needed to make a statement, and I really wanted to make it as violent as possible — show a little bit of a different side that people haven’t seen as much of.”

Despite Nunes winning 10 straight — seven straight in title fights — Spencer feels like she learned a lot in Nunes’ most recent fight against Germaine de Randamie.

“It was a good performance, [but] we were starting to see an Amanda that was just taking people out in the first round a lot, just crazy finishes,” said Spencer. “It was a good reminder that she’s a human being. Just like Cris [Cyborg]. She’s has a game plan, and sometimes things go really, really well when you have a game plan and you take people out in the first round. Sometimes you just have to grind through it.

“She doesn’t have a perfect record, she’s not unbeatable,” she continued. “I know she’s done a lot of [great] things in the last part of her career, but there’s definitely a lot of things I see that I can capitalize on.”

Nunes last two fights have been at bantamweight, but with the double champion actively calling for a 145-pound title defense as recently as Saturday night, Spencer feels like she’s ready to step into the spotlight. Despite being only nine fights into her pro career and three fights into her UFC career, Spencer has already won the Invicta FC women’s featherweight title and took Cyborg the distance — something only Spencer and Holly Holm have done since 2008.

“I’m ready,” said Spencer. “If I wait another year, is it really going to be that much different? I just came off another great fight camp, feel better than ever.”

Megan Anderson: I have a feeling Spencer will get Nunes

After posting a first-round stoppage Saturday that earned her a performance-of-the-night bonus, Megan Anderson said she was in a perfect spot to land a chance to challenge featherweight champ Amanda Nunes.

Her biggest challenge to that opportunity was Felicia Spencer, who fought later on the on the card and posted her own first-round stoppage.

Nunes tweeted that she liked both contenders and would leave it up to UFC president Dana White.

Anderson said Monday she has an idea how that decision will turn out.

“If they want me to fight Amanda next, I’m going to be 100 percent ready,” Anderson said. “But I also wouldn’t be surprised if they gave it to Felicia. I do understand she has a win over me.

“I have a feeling that they’re going to give it to Felicia. They seem to like her, and they like to give her those types of opportunities. If that’s the case, I feel she’s an incredible athlete, she’s a top competitor and I wish her all the best. But it’s going to happen when it’s going to happen, so there’s no point in me worrying about it. I’m not going to lose any sleep over me worrying if they don’t give me a title shot. I know it’s going to come when it’s supposed to happen. If they don’t give me the shot, I want to keep consistently fighting and racking up the wins and showcasing why I should be fighting for the title.”

Anderson said Nunes will be a tougher opponent for Spencer than was Cris Cyborg, who won a unanimous decision over Spencer on July 27, 2019.

“Amanda is very physically strong and she’s very well-rounded, so I feel like it’s going to be a tougher fight for Felicia than the Cyborg fight,” Anderson said.

More than just a fight nigt in Norfolk for Luis Pena

It was the third round of a bout Luis Peña was on his way to winning, but suddenly he found himself caught in a triangle choke and he could feel his fight — and his consciousness — slipping away.

“It got tight. It got real tight,” Peña recalled on Monday. “There was a point where I was like, ‘F—, I might go out.’ … And I was like, ‘No, no, we can’t do this, not in front of my little brother.'”

Peña (8-2) persevered and won a unanimous decision over Steve Garcia on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia. That allowed for a family celebration … with his new family.

Peña was born in 1993 to parents in the U.S. Navy who were stationed in Naples, Italy. At a young age, he was adopted by a Latino-American couple and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. Through a genetic genealogy website, Peña made a connection with his biological parents, meeting his mother when he was 19 and his father two years ago, shortly after his first UFC fight.

His biological father is stationed in Norfolk, so Peña made arrangements to meet his younger brother, who like him was raised an only child. They met for the first time during fight week, and once the fight was finished, Peña’s brother was cageside to embrace him.

“Me and my brother stayed up until 5 a.m. talking,” said Peña. “Going over life. Just catching up.”

Peña still feels a strong connection to his adoptive parents and to his adoptive mother’s second husband, “the man who raised me.” He is “super-close” to his biological mother. But it is his bond with his biological father, who is African-American, that has helped Peña feel complete.

“As a young half-black man, especially growing up in the South, you go through certain things,” he said. “To finally be able to talk to someone and be able to relate to someone through that — not just anyone, but relate to your own father through that — I can’t really put into words what it means.”

Peña knows of one immediate family member he has not yet met: a brother on his father’s side who has no relationship with his younger brother either. His goal is to bring that brother into his newly expanded family circle.

“I’ve kinda realized, as I’ve been reflecting over these past few days,” said Peña. “Maybe this is my purpose: to bring all these people together.”

Deron Winn wants Cormier’s support, but needs his own identity

Deron Winn should have some extra comfort when he faces Gerald Meerschaert at UFC 248. A familiar face will be near the Octagon — Winn’s AKA teammate Daniel Cormier.

The former two-division UFC champion will be serving as an analyst for the ESPN+ pay-per-view event. Winn considers Cormier to be a big brother. He also assists Cormier with the Gilroy High School wrestling team.

Both wrestlers have similar builds and some have even called Winn a younger version of Cormier. But Winn, 30, said Monday he wouldn’t mind if the comparisons came to an end.

“Me and DC have to skate the fine line of me just being all DC hype,” Winn said. “I can’t just be like riding his coattails all the time. I have to be my own guy. That’s OK that people call me mini DC. I’m probably never going to get away from that.”

Winning on Saturday would certainly help Winn make a name for himself. He’s coming off a loss last October to Darren Stewart, one where Winn missed weight for the middleweight bout.

He said Meerschaert, who is 29-12, has been playing head games through social media, creating Instagram posts aimed toward the inexperienced Winn (6-1).

That’s a big mistake, Winn offered.

“That’s all fun and games until we get into the cage on Saturday night and I’m smashing your face in,” Winn said. “So you can laugh and make all those jokes until you’re getting smashed. … I’m far from stressed from this dude.”

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