Fact be advised, UFC 248 is not going to be the corporate’s largest pay-per-view occasion of the 12 months when it is all stated and completed.

Not with Conor McGregor teasing the potential of three fights, and 2019 breakout Jorge Masvidal on the cusp of his first UFC title shot. Not with a Stipe Miocic, Daniel Cormier trilogy hanging within the steadiness, or Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson (lastly!!!!) on April 18.

However should you take a more in-depth take a look at the principle and co-main occasions of UFC 248, man, there’s so much at stake this weekend in Las Vegas.

UFC 248 options two champions making their first title defenses. In the principle occasion, Israel Adesanya places his middleweight championship on the road in opposition to Yoel Romero. Previous to that struggle, strawweight champ Zhang Weili will defend in opposition to former titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Order UFC 248 now

UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero
• Saturday, Las Vegas
• Early prelims: ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET
• Prelims: ESPN, Eight p.m. ET
• Fundamental card: ESPN+ PPV, 10 p.m. ET

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has already made it identified he is coming for mild heavyweight champion and all-time nice Jon Jones in 2021. And his path to get there may be fairly apparent. Beat Yoel Romero this weekend. Beat the undefeated Paulo Costa this summer time. Then beat one other middleweight challenger, possibly Darren Until, in late 2020.

Adesanya already has a belt. The subsequent steps are to depart a legacy and cross over into a really bonafide tremendous star. A Three-Zero run in 2020 that finally results in Jones accomplishes that.

Romero, in the meantime, is probably going his final shot at a middleweight championship. He is held off father time higher than arguably anybody within the sport’s historical past, however at age 42, time is just not on his aspect. He is turn out to be a fan favourite on the best way and he is among the finest fighters (interval) of the previous decade. Now he wants the belt to go together with it.

Within the co-main occasion, newly topped strawweight champion Zhang Weili will search her first title protection in opposition to essentially the most embellished strawweight of all time in Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It is an instantaneous take a look at of greatness for Zhang. Sure, she’s already a 115-pound champion. However as of now, Jedrzejczyk continues to be this era’s bar of excellence to be measured in opposition to.

Once more, based mostly on hype alone, nobody can say UFC 248 is the blockbuster occasion of 2020. However there is no such thing as a debating it would have a considerable impression on the careers of all 4 athletes concerned within the prime two fights.

Middleweight championship:
Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero

ESPN Stats & Info

By the numbers

2: Fighters to obtain a UFC title shot coming off two nontitle struggle losses. Apart from Romero, the one one was a short-notice reserving. In 1997, Tank Abbott challenged heavyweight champ Maurice Smith on 4 days’ discover and shortly ran out of gasoline, dropping by ground-and-pound TKO.

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Anderson Silva13Nate Marquardt12Israel Adesanya10*Yoel Romero10* = quickest to 10 in UFC historical past (7 fights)

602: Days it took Adesanya to construct a 7-Zero UFC report, making him the quickest to take action within the promotion’s fashionable historical past. Anderson Silva (850 days) and Jon Fitch (880) are the 2 quickest to Eight-Zero, and if Adesanya wins on Saturday, he could have completed it in 755 days.

1: Fighter older than Romero who has gained a UFC championship. Randy Couture was 43 years and 254 days previous when he defeated Tim Sylvia in 2007 for the heavyweight title. Romero might be 42 years and 312 days previous on Saturday.

66.7: Proportion of opponents’ vital strike makes an attempt that Adesanya has efficiently defended, the third-highest defensive proportion in UFC middleweight historical past. Adesanya has held 4 of his seven UFC opponents to a big strike accuracy underneath 30%.

2: Athletes who’ve gained an Olympic medal and UFC championship. Henry Cejudo gained gold in freestyle wrestling and Ronda Rousey gained bronze in judo, each representing the U.S. on the 2008 Video games. Romero gained a silver medal wrestling for Cuba on the 2000 Olympics.

Sources: ESPN Stats & Info and UFC Stats

A glance again

STRONG FIRST IMPRESSION — Israel Adesanya unloads on Rob Wilkinson on his approach to a TKO victory in his UFC debut on Feb. 11, 2018, in Perth, Australia. Inside 14 months he might be 6-Zero within the promotion and interim champion. Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Photos

5 vs. 5

Israel Adesanya’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Robert Whittaker (KO2, Oct. 6, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Kelvin Gastelum (UD, April 13, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Anderson Silva (UD, Feb. 10, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Derek Brunson (TKO3, Nov. Three, 2018)
Win: Brad Tavares (UD, July 6, 2018)

Yoel Romero’s most up-to-date outcomes
Loss: Paulo Costa (UD, Aug. 17, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Robert Whittaker (SD, June 9, 2018, Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Luke Rockhold (KO3, Feb. 11, 2018, Watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Robert Whittaker (UD, July Eight, 2017; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Chris Weidman (KO3, Nov. 12, 2016; Watch on ESPN+)

Preventing phrases

“It is exhausting to do a backflip when you’ve gotten 12 kilos of gold in your shoulder — one thing he’ll by no means have.” –Adesanya, chatting with ESPN about whether or not he felt one-upped by Romero’s backflip at their current information convention dance-off

Dom & Gil’s movie research

Cruz and Melendez break down Israel Adesanya’s footwork:

play

1:41

On Unlocking Victory, Dominick Cruz shows how Israel Adesanya makes use of his footwork to create offensive alternatives in opposition to his opponents. Order UFC 248 right here on ESPN+ espn.com/ppv.

Brett Okamoto’s prediction

I can not imagine I am saying this, however I believe that is the one Romero seems his age. Wait, let me rephrase. Romero will in all probability by no means look his age, however that is the one he’ll look a lot older than his opponent. Might Romero problem Adesanya with wrestling? It is doable, however I do not discover it doubtless. The times of somebody merely wrestling their approach to a UFC title aren’t as widespread as they was once — except your identify is Khabib Nurmagomedov. I believe this one stays upright, and that is Adesanya’s realm. Adesanya TKO within the fourth spherical.

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Strawweight championship:
Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

ESPN Stats & Info

By the numbers

2,311: Days it would have been, on struggle night time, since Zhang misplaced a struggle. Since dropping a choice to present One Championship fighter Meng Bo in a regional promotion in Xuchang, China, on Nov. 9, 2013, in her professional MMA debut, Zhang has reeled off 20 straight wins.

Ronda Rousey0:14Ronda Rousey0:16Ronda Rousey0:34Zhang Weili0:42

Zero-Three: File of former UFC girls’s champions making an attempt to regain their titles. Amongst them is Jedrzejczyk, who in 2018 failed in her first bid for redemption.

1,525: Important strikes landed by Jedrzejczyk, essentially the most all time amongst feminine fighters within the UFC.

17: Finishes by Zhang amongst her 20 profession victories. She has 10 KO/TKOs and 7 submissions. Within the UFC, Zhang is Four-Zero with one TKO, one sub and two choices.

10: UFC wins for Jedrzejczyk, essentially the most in strawweight historical past and third-most amongst all UFC females (behind Amanda Nunes’ 12 and Jessica Andrade’s 11).

Sources: ESPN Stats & Info and UFC Stats

A glance again

FEELING LIKE A CHAMP — Joanna Jedrzejczyk celebrates after knocking out Carla Esparza on March 14, 2015, in Dallas to win the UFC strawweight belt. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Photos

5 vs. 5

Zhang Weili’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Jessica Andrade (TKO1, Aug. 31, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Tecia Torres (UD, March 2, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jessica Aguilar (SUB2, Nov. 24, 2018)
Win: Danielle Taylor (UD, Aug. Four, 2018)
Win: Bianca Sattelmayer (SUB1, Oct. Three, 2017)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Michelle Waterson (UD, Oct. 12, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Valentina Shevchenko (UD, Dec. Eight, 2018; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Tecia Torres (UD, July 28, 2018)
Loss: Rose Namajunas (UD, April 7, 2018)
Loss: Rose Namajunas (TKO1, Nov. Four, 2017)

Preventing phrases

“To make enjoyable of tragedy is a real signal of ones character. Persons are dying, someones father, someones mom, someones youngster. Say what you need about me if it makes you are feeling stronger however don’t joke about what’s taking place right here. I want you good well being till March seventh. I’ll see you quickly.” –Zhang, in an Instagram submit responding to a Jedrzejczyk social media submit (since deleted) that made mild of the coronavirus outbreak in China

Dom & Gil’s movie research

Cruz and Melendez clarify Zhang Weili’s putting stress:

play

1:54

On Unlocking Victory, Dominick Cruz explains the best way Zhang Weili makes use of stress and strikes from her lead aspect to win. Order UFC 248 right here on ESPN+ espn.com/ppv.

Brett Okamoto’s prediction

To me, Jedrzejczyk continues to be each bit the fighter she was throughout her title reign. She nonetheless is available in to each bout in phenomenal form and with an indescribable will to win. Her abilities haven’t deteriorated, technically or bodily talking. She is a champion caliber strawweight. However what we have seen is types make a distinction in her fights, and I do imagine Zhang presents a difficult one. Zhang is a tricky matchup along with her physicality, stress and boxing. And she or he has momentum on her aspect. I’m cut up proper down the center on this one, but when I’ve to lean a technique, Zhang by resolution.

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What else to search for … past the title fights

The remainder of the cardboard:
PPV (by way of ESPN+), 10 p.m. ET
Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose | Light-weight
Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang | Welterweight
Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin | Welterweight
ESPN, Eight p.m.
Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez | Males’s bantamweight
Mark O. Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard | Light-weight
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov | Middleweight
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn | Middleweight
ESPN+, 6:30 p.m.
Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana | Strawweight
Jamall Emmers vs. Giga Chikadze | Girls’s featherweight
Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti | Males’s bantamweight

Medal-winning credentials on show

Yoel Romero is not going to be the one Olympic wrestling medalist competing at UFC 248. And positively not the one elite grappler.

2 Associated

Mark O. Madsen (9-Zero), who faces Austin Hubbard in a light-weight prelim, gained Greco-Roman silver competing for Denmark on the 2016 Video games. Madsen, 35, additionally wrestled on the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, ending simply out of the medal image, in fourth place, in ’12. As well as, Madsen was a four-time medalist (three silver, one bronze) on the World Championships.

This might be Madsen’s second UFC struggle. In a 72-second TKO of Danilo Belluardo final September, Madsen was dominant, touchdown 22 vital strikes and absorbing zero.

Competing proper earlier than Madsen on Saturday might be one other undefeated fighter extremely embellished in one of many disciplines of blended martial arts. Rodolfo Vieira (6-Zero), who faces middleweight Saparbek Safarov, is a four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and a seven time World Cup champion.

The oddsmakers are apparently up on their grappling credentials, as a result of regardless of being in simply his second UFC struggle, the 30-year-old Vieira is the most important favourite on Saturday’s card, at -850.

Odds ‘n’ ends

Some undercard tidbits from ESPN Stats & Info:

When Beneil Dariush (17-Four-1) and Drakkar Klose (11-1-1) meet in a light-weight bout, they each might be placing three-fight profitable streaks on the road.

Neil Magny (21-Eight) might be coming back from a career-high 476-day layoff when he takes on Li Jingliang (17-5), the winningest Chinese language fighter in UFC historical past with a 9-Three mark within the promotion.

Alex Oliveira (19-Eight-1) might be seeking to snap a three-fight dropping streak when he faces welterweight Max Griffin (15-7), who has misplaced three of his final 4 fights.

Gerald Meerschaert (29-12) has misplaced three of his final 4 fights however does personal 5 UFC victories — all finishes. He faces Deron Winn (6-1), who’s coming off his first profession loss. In his most up-to-date victory, Winn landed a middleweight-record 169 vital strikes.

Polyana Viana (10-Four), who faces Emily Whitmire (Four-Three), has misplaced every of her final three bouts and was submitted in her most up-to-date one in simply 1:09. It was the quickest submission in strawweight historical past.