UFC 248: Dana White Reveals Matchmakers Resisted Booking Adesanya vs. Romero

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Las Vegas, NV — There were a lot of talking points coming out of UFC 248 on Saturday night. The Las Vegas PPV card saw one of the best five round fights of all time inside the octagon — as well as one of the most disappointing. Back-to-back.

Following the event, UFC President Dana White admitted that Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk “was a tough act to follow.” Not that the main event between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero would have looked much better on any other card. Speaking to reporters including Cageside Press at the post-fight press conference, he addressed both bouts.

“I believe that Israel Adesanya fights to the level of his opponent,” White observed of the UFC middleweight champion. Given the lack of aggression shown by Yoel Romero in their main event title fight, perhaps that doomed the bout from the outset. “The Anderson Silva fight was similar to that. Then you think about, the [Kelvin] Gastelum fight was a war. Gastelum goes after him, and tries to take his head off. [Robert] Whittaker is going after him trying to take his head off, that fight was great.”

Looking ahead to what’s likely the next middleweight booking, White added that “You’d better believe that Paulo Costa is going to go after him. That fight should be ridiculous.”

White believed going into UFC 248 that the co-main event might be the bigger fight, the UFC President claimed. But either way, he added, “I’m shocked that Romero knew this was his last opportunity at a world championship. I thought he was going to come out like a bat out of hell, shoot takedowns, go for [broke], try to knock him out. He did literally none of that.”

Adesanya, meanwhile, fought a smart fight in White’s estimation. “You stay on the outside. You chop that leg apart, he picked his punches, and he did what he did. Romero did a lot of moving around and acting like ‘I’m trying to fight,’ but he never really did.”

In retrospect, suggested White, it’s a match he shouldn’t have made. In fact, his matchmakers, Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, didn’t want to do the fight at all. “The matchmakers didn’t love that fight and didn’t want to make that fight,” White revealed. “They did not want to make Romero vs. Adesanya. But the goofy fan in me said ‘are you sh*tting me? Come on, this will be a fun fight to do.’ And the fact that [Adesanya] wants to fight a guy that nobody else wants to fight? Now, hindsight is 20-20, we probably shouldn’t have done that fight, probably should have waited for Costa.”

The pair’s reasoning was simple. “They said it didn’t make sense. You can’t tell the matchmakers anything that doesn’t make sense. Everything has to make sense to those two.” On that front, Romero came into the title fight off two straight losses, and having missed weight for past title opportunities — though weight was not an issue at UFC 248.

Next in line for 185lb champ Israel Adesanya, as noted, is Paulo Costa. Costa was backstage on Saturday, brought out for the post-fight press conference, no doubt to fill time due to the number of fighters who had been transported to hospital. Costa floated a July date for his middleweight title shot, but White isn’t ready to book it just yet.

“He’s got to calm down. I want to hear it from a doctor. He went crazy tonight, and jumped over the gate. We threw him out.” Costa was seen trying to make his way to the cage after Adesanya’s win, though he later claimed it was only for a face-off opportunity, and nothing untoward.

White, however, is more worried about the bicep injury that has sidelined the Brazilian. “When he’s healthy and a doctor calls me, not his friend from Brazil, when a doctor calls me and tells me he’s healthy, we’ll make this fight,” exclaimed White. “This is the fight that I want to see, and I guarantee you when that fight happens, you’ll hear me going crazy about that one. That fight’s going to be ridiculous, because Paulo Costa will move forward, he will not stop punching, he’s going to throw big shots and try to knock him out. And Israel will fight.”

As for Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who put on a brilliant performance at UFC 248, White isn’t even thinking about what is next for them.

“Did you see what those two girls looked like after that fight?” he responded when asked about a possible rematch. “They’re both in the hospital right now. They did not go to the press conference, they did not talk to press, they both went straight to the hospital.”

The five-round strawweight co-main event stole the show at UFC 248. It was a close fight, though the damage on ex-champ Jedrzejczyk’s face was far more severe, leaving her head looking ready to burst at the seams. Despite the visible damage being a little more one-sided, the fight was rather even, with Zhang winning a split decision.

“They need to go home, take time to heal up and everything else before I even mention a fight with either one of them again,” White stated.

However, he had high praise for the ladies. “It’s one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

Later, White added that “off the top of my head, best women’s fight I’ve ever seen, and one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

Watch the full UFC 248 post-fight press conference with Dana White above!

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