Israel Adesanya unapologetic for UFC 248 performance


Watch a replay of today’s show here.

Israel Adesanya heard the boobirds for the first time in his UFC career on Saturday night as his middleweight title defense versus Yoel Romero fell short of expectations.

“One hundred percent, the weirdest fight I’ve ever been a part of,” Adesanya said Monday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Even for me, as a fan, [it’s] the most boring fight I’ve ever had, and I don’t have boring fights. That’s not my style, that’s not my gig.”

Adesanya pulled out the unanimous decision as an underwhelmed crowd voiced its displeasure, but his next fight should be completely different. Adesanya is expected to face unbeaten powerhouse Paulo Costa (13-0), who was in attendance in Las Vegas and called the champ’s performance at UFC 248 “shameful” during the postfight news conference.

Adesanya, though, seems to welcome any trash talk that Costa can spew. “The Last Stylebender” said that getting in the head of his potential challenger should be a breeze.

“You know when there’s a bull and there’s a matador, you can poke at it and get an ultimate reaction? It’s exactly that,” Adesanya said. “He’s a guy that I don’t have to poke that much, I don’t have to prod. I’m going to have fun with the press conference with this one. I’m going to have fun with the lead-up. I’m going to have fun with poking the bear.

“And I’m going to have fun slaying the bear.”

Adesanya, now 19-0 and 8-0 in the UFC, said there’s talk that a fight with Costa could happen in July, and he has a prediction.

“He knows who the champion is,” Adesanya said. “He has to stir a narrative or something. But that fight is going to be easy. That’s going to be a finish. I’ll finish that f—er.”

As for the fight with Romero, Adesanya makes no apologies for the lack of excitement. Romero, 42, drilled him in the first round, but didn’t do much else the rest of the way, standing in the middle of the Octagon and not pressing the action.

“He almost bores you in a way, it’s weird,” Adesanya said. “He almost bores you in a way to the point where you’re like, right, I gotta make something happen. That’s not up to you. When you have something to protect and people want that stuff, they have to come get it. That’s how this works.”

Shevchenko doubt’s Zhang’s future as champion

A few days before Zhang Weili’s first defense of the UFC strawweight title, her manager already was thinking ahead. Brian Butler told ESPN that if all went well against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Zhang would be interested in a superfight against flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Shevchenko believes that Zhang & Co. might be rethinking their future in the wake of Saturday’s split-decision brawl with Jedrzejczyk. “I think after this fight they would change their minds,” she said.

Shevchenko scored the fight for Jedrzejczyk and came away believing that Zhang’s reign at the top of the 115-pound division will not last long.

“She did good. She’s strong,” Shevchenko said of Chinese fighter. “But you could see, once she starts [to] get the real competition, the real level of martial artist, the top level of fighters, the top level of opponent, now she has a struggle. You could see how difficult was this fight with Joanna, her fight, how difficult it was. And I really don’t see Weili defending her belt in the next title fight.”

That defense probably will come against the winner of the April 18 bout between ex-champs Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade. “I think most likely it’s gonna be Rose for the next fight,” said Shevchenko.

Why did she give Jedrzejczyk the nod on Saturday?

“In my opinion, Joanna won this fight because her accuracy was more on point,” said Shevchenko. “And yes, she gets this inflammation on her head, but it was just one punch.”

Jedrzejczyk did out-strike the champion, according to UFC Stats. She landed 186 of 360 significant strike attempts, or 51%, to 40% (165 of 408) for Zhang.

Shevchenko has a history of her own with Jedrzejczyk. She became champion in 2018 by defeating her by unanimous decision in a fight for the vacant 125-pound title. She also defeated Jedrzejczyk three times during their amateur kickboxing careers.

Shevchenko next defends her belt June 6 in Perth, Australia, against Joanne Calderwood. If she wins, and if Zhang is also successful in her next title bout, Shevchenko would not be against a champ-vs.-champ showdown.

“I’ll gladly fight her,” said Shevchenko, “and I don’t see any difficulties in this fight.”

Bob Arum still not a fan of MMA

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum reiterated his feelings on MMA, saying, “It’s trash — I don’t like it, I don’t like to watch it,” although he bestowed praise on Dana White as a promoter.

The conversation eventually turned to Fury-Wilder III, which Arum said will almost certainly stay in Vegas, and while the contract calls for the fight to happen by July 18, it could theoretically happen earlier, depending on negotiations. Beyond that fight, Arum talked about other co-promotional opportunities including a unification bout with Anthony Joshua, although he once again insisted that Kubrat Pulev will knock Joshua out on June 20.

Most interestingly, on the topic of co-promotion inspired by the success of Fury-Wilder II, Arum said that the relationship with PBC is such that a long-talked-about fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence, Jr. would be a more realistic possibility than previously believed, had it not been for outside circumstances.

“I would venture to say that absent the accident that happened to Spence, we would now be talking about a Crawford-Spence fight with a date and a venue firmly in place,” Arum said. “I saw Spence was sitting behind me for the Tyson Fury fight with Wilder, and I don’t know if he’s back in the kind of condition that he would have to be where he could fight a Crawford. I really don’t know. … I’m not pushing it, because I don’t want him to go into a fight not prepared for an opponent like Terence Crawford.”

Sean O’Malley satisfied with win, but wanted more action at UFC 248

Sean O’Malley was understandably emotional in the moments after his victory over Jose Quinonez Saturday night in the featured prelim of UFC 248.

After a two-year hiatus stemming from issues with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over the presence of ostarine that kept showing up in tests, O’Malley finally returned to the cage and earned a TKO victory in just over two minutes. After his previous fight, O’Malley was on his back during his postfight interview with Joe Rogan because he fractured a bone in his foot. The interview was seen over 1.2 millions times on YouTube. O’Malley made sure to resurrect some of that interview Saturday night, when he said “I friggin’ love you, Joe Rogan.” Rogan again responded, “I love you, too, buddy.”

“I’d take my dog on walks, and I was just picturing that moment for a long time — standing there with Joe, getting a finish,” O’Malley said. “It’s hard to explain and put into words how I was feeling, but it felt good.”

O’Malley said he was actually a little disappointed that the finish came so early in the fight.

“Any time I fight, I can knock someone out in the first round, especially if they’re going to come forward. I wasn’t surprised it happened like that,” O’Malley said. “I would’ve liked to fight a little bit longer, just [because] it’s been two years. I wanted to fight. I’ve been in fight camp forever. … But you obviously can’t complain about getting a first-round finish.”

After such a long stretch of inaction, O’Malley is excited for a chance to jump back in the cage again soon to get back to work and make up for lost time.

“I felt like I was in camp for a long time, so I got in really good shape, and to fight for two minutes, I didn’t even breathe through my mouth once,” said O’Malley. “I was nasal breathing. I didn’t even sweat. I want to go look at the calendar, see where certain fights are, and check it out. … I’ll probably do that this week.”

Neil Magny asks USADA to meet him at the hospital

Neil Magny made a successful return to the Octagon at UFC 248, earning a convincing unanimous-decision win over Li Jingliang. It was Magny’s 15th UFC victory at welterweight, tying him for third all time.

The win was especially gratifying for Magny, who hadn’t fought since November 2018 as he worked with USADA in an attempt to clear his name over a positive test for the banned substance Di-Hydroxy-LGD-4033.

How badly did Magny want vindication? He said that not even the recent birth of his son was going to keep him from meeting with testers from USADA.

“It was definitely a long process,” Magny said. “I literally remember being at the hospital just hours after my wife’s given birth and I get a notification from USADA, ‘Hey, man, where you at? We’re at your doorstep and no one is answering the door.’ And I had a response for them, ‘Hey, I’m currently at the hospital. My wife just gave birth. Is there any way you can meet me here for the drug test?’

“And lucky enough, they were able to meet me at the hospital and we got it done there.”

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