Adesanya outpoints Romero to retain UFC title

MMA

Israel Adesanya defeated Yoel Romero by unanimous decision to retain his middleweight championship in Saturday night’s main event at UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The judges scored the bout 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.

The first two rounds featured very few exchanges between the fighters, though Romero connected with an overhand left that appeared to hurt Adesanya’s eye in the first.

Adesanya picked up the pace in Round 3, especially with his kicks, landing one to the body and several sharp leg kicks. He also landed the most significant strike in the fourth round, another hard leg kick that briefly buckled Romero.

Adesanya continued to do damage with hard leg kicks in the final round, and Romero’s right thigh had visible welts by the end of the fight.

The fight featured 88 combined significant strikes, the fewest in a UFC middleweight title fight that went to a decision since Anderson Silva beat Demian Maia at UFC 112. That fight had 71 combined significant strikes.

Adesanya (19-0) was making the first defense of his undisputed middleweight title, which he captured when he knocked out Robert Whittaker at UFC 243. He entered that fight as the interim champion and unified the crown with the win.

With Saturday’s win, Adesanya became only the fourth middleweight in UFC history to begin his career 8-0 with the promotion, joining Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman and Romero.

Romero (13-5) has lost four his past five fights, including three defeats in title bouts. In his previous fight, he lost a hard-fought unanimous decision to Paulo Costa at UFC 241 in August.

Romero was slotted in Saturday’s fight because of an injury to Costa.

Adesanya entered the fight as ESPN’s No. 7-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Romero is ESPN’s No. 4 middleweight.

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