UFC 248 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Main Card (PPV)
Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero
This should be a tense and exciting title clash, with Romero still being a big threat to the undefeated Adesanya, despite having lost three of his last four fights.
Romero is 42 now, but he still remains a remarkable athlete who is big and exceptionally powerful, yet remarkably fast for his size, and the fact that he is very patient and tends to launch into potentially fight-ending surges when you least expect it means Adesanya can’t let his guard down for a second of this 25-minute encounter.
Adesanya is of course an elite striker with excellent technique and a dynamic range of offensive weapons at his disposal, manages range well (helped by a 6″ height and 6.5″ reach advantage in this fight) and a wealth of experience in both MMA and kickboxing.
Though he’s never lost in MMA, Adesanya was KO’d by a single punch in his final kickboxing bout several years ago, and that’s certainly something Romero is capable of, but if he can’t find that big finisher then Adesanya’s more consistent, effective and accurate offense is going to win rounds and ultimately win the fight on the scorecards.
Israel Adesanya wins by decision.
Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
So far the Chinese powerhouse Zhang has been unstoppable in the UFC, but she’s yet to come up against someone as technically skilled as former champ Jedrzejczyk.
Zhang is strong, aggressive and hits with real power, but she isn’t as refined or diverse of a striker as Jedrzejczyk, who might not hit as hard, but uses speed, crisp combinations, movement and distance management to her advantage, while mixing up her attacks effectively.
Jedrzejczyk also tends to read her opponents well and can adapt as the fight goes on, has the cardio to push five rounds at a high pace and has strong takedown defense into the bargain.
It’s not easy to pick against Zhang as she’s looked impressive so far and has exceeded expectations, but I feel her physical advantages could be negated by Jedrzejczyk’s slick striking and footwork, leading to a decision victory.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk wins by decision.
Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose
While Dariush’s chin appeared to be jeopardized a few years back after a couple of KO losses, he’s done well to refocus on his grappling prowess and emerge with three victories in a row since.
Klose has never been stopped and in fact has only been beaten once in 12 career fights, which is in large part thanks to his grinding style, which focuses on controlling his opponents from the clinch position.
Klose should have the physical strength advantage here, but Dariush is a very talented grappler and I think that will enable him to prevent his opponent from stalling him against the cage and will be able to work himself into opportunities on the mat that will eventually lead him to a submission victory.
Beneil Dariush wins by submission in Rd3.
Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang
Two fighters with opposing strategies here. Magny likes to fight cautiously from range and the good news for him here is he has a whopping 8.5″ reach advantage over Jingliang.
Jingliang on the other hand is much more aggressive and will wade forward applying lots of pressure while throwing heavy hands and kicks looking for a finish.
Magny is a solid grappler, but though he’s made his mark in the UFC with his offensive striking, Jingliang is also a good wrestler, so this one will likely play out on the feet.
As such, I think Magny’s going to find it hard to land with the kind of authority that is going to gain the hard-headed Jingliang’s respect, and that will leave him vulnerable to hard-hitting attacks that will lead to a third round TKO stoppage.
Li Jingliang wins by TKO in Rd3.
Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin
Two fighters who have hit upon tough times in the Octagon of late meet here and the battle to keep there spot on the roster should up the intensity levels here.
Not that both fighters don’t already bring plenty of action already, with Oliveira in particular being offensively minded both on the feet and on the mat, which has led him to 16 finishes from 19 career wins.
Griffin is a tough fighter who has only been finished once in his time in MMA and he should be able to mix it up with Oliveira on the feet, but I think ‘Cowboy’s’ early aggression and better ground skills will be enough to help him get the better of the fight, but he might have to settle for a decision on this occasion.
Alex Oliveira wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez
Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn
Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana
Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti