Las Vegas, NV — Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero was not what fans wanted. Let’s get that out of the way first. The UFC 248 main event wasn’t what the fighters wanted, either. That much is clear.
An uneventful fight with neither man committing, at least not consistently, marred what had been a promising fight on paper. Speaking at the post-fight press conference to reporters including Cageside Press, champ Adesanya, who retained his title with a unanimous decision win, gave his side of things.
“These guys are crafty, these old guys,” he suggested. “They’ll do things and act like ‘oh, why you no fight?’ I’m chopping your legs off, I’m jabbing you. Why aren’t you bringing the fight?”
Adesanya’s comments are in reference to Yoel Romero’s complaint after the bout that the champion ran. ‘The Last Stylebender’ sees things a different way however. He made the comparison to the Kelvin Gastelum fight, an opponent who he feels brought the action. “I’m never in a boring fight. That’s not my style,” he said.
“Even tonight, I overcame adversity.” It’s something he’s overcome before, he added, against Gastelum. “You seen when the going gets tough, when someone actually brings the fight, when someone actually comes after you with different looks, different techniques, not just one look — and that’s just like a wooden kung-fu dummy just standing there.”
“I need people to try to take this sh*t off of me. Keep trying,” Adesanya exclaimed.
Questioned about Romero’s comments on him running, the middleweight champ fired back with “what else is he going to say? How else is he going to sleep at night? He lost his last chance at gold.”
He might be right. There certainly isn’t going to be a push for a rematch, and at nearly 43, it’s unlikely the UFC wants Romero anywhere near the middleweight title again. Stranger things have happened, of course (i.e. Bisping vs. Henderson II).
As Adesanya pointed out, however, when it comes to pace and action in a fight, there are two parties responsible. “It’s not up to just me. I’m the champion, I’m the one with the belt, I’m the one with the gold,” he stated. “If you want it, come get it. In the fifth round, like I said, when I fought Gastelum, the belt was up for grabs. It was about who wanted it more. And I wanted it more. That’s why I’m the champion. I’m the champion now. If you want the belt, and you know the fight’s close, come get it. And [Romero] didn’t.”
For the record, kicking Yoel Romero is nothing like kicking steel, he added. It’s a metaphor that several of his opponents have used. Oft quoted by the media at large.
“Like flesh and bone and muscle. Really thick muscle,” is how Adesanya described it. “But nothing like steel. You guys have these metaphors — have you ever actually kicked steel? It’s f*cking bullsh*t. It’s just the media perpetuates all this sh*t.”
“It’s just muscle, thick muscle. I understand what people are trying to say, it’s heavy. But I’ve kicked the bottom of the heavy bag at my gym. It’s way harder than him,” he continued, later adding “that narrative with steel, put that to rest now.”
That’s not to say Romero didn’t do any damage. He does hit hard, after all. The biggest shot appeared to have come early, and the champ was pawing at his eye after. “I could see two Yoel Romeros,” Adesanya admitted. “He cracked me with a good one.” That said, Adesanya appeared pleased with taking that shot. “I ate that. I’m not proud of my chin, I’ve told you guys, but I can take a shot. I just don’t like to brag about it, because it’s stupid.”
Next up for Israel Adesanya will likely be Paulo Costa. Had the Brazilian not been out with a bicep injury, it’s likely the pair would have met already. Both are undefeated. Adesanya is 19-0 after UFC 248 on Saturday. Costa himself are 13-0.
The Brazilian has suggested a meeting at International Fight Week in July. “That sounds good to me,” Adesanya said. “July’s my birthday month. We can do that.”
Earlier in the evening, Costa had made his way backstage to discuss the UFC 248 main event. In short, he wasn’t a fan, calling Adesanya “shameful” for what he saw as running in the fight.
“He sucks at trying to talk trash. He’s easily influenced,” Adesanya retorted. “I can flick his nose, and you’ll see him bark at the cage. He’s too emotional. And already I know how that fight’s going to go. I’m going to sleep that guy.”
Watch the full UFC 248 post-fight press conference with Israel Adesanya above!