Morning Report: Israel Adesanya declares Yoel Romero fight as lowest point in MMA career


Israel Adesanya found out the hard way that they can’t all be barnburners.

Entering the UFC with a perfect 11-0 record in Feb. 2018, “The Last Stylebender” quickly started leaving a mark on the division as a striker to be taken seriously. Racking up win after win in a timely fashion, it wasn’t long before Adesanya was facing his idol Anderson Silva in a home game and progressing to put on some thrilling performances.

At present, Adesanya is the reigning middleweight champion with five official title defenses to his name in the division. Still flawless as a 185-pound competitor, the City Kickboxing product tasted his first loss in MMA when challenging for the 205-pound crown against Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Despite that being his lone shortcoming in the sport, Adesanya doesn’t consider it his lowest point.

“It’s not the Jan fight, surprisingly,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “Like I said, dare to be great.

“If I’m being honest, the [Yoel] Romero fight. Because that was the first time people were just like, ‘Ah, boring.’ He had another fight after me and he did the same thing. The smart people were like, ‘Ah, Israel was right. He’s doing the exact same thing.’ Cause he knew if he made a move against me the wrong way, I was gonna catch him.”

A full year before Adesanya’s first and only loss, he defended his title for the first time in a clash with Yoel Romero in UFC 248’s main event, earning a lackluster unanimous decision. An odd pairing at that juncture thanks to Romero’s prior loss to Paulo Costa, the fight ended up widely considered one of the worst of all time.

The limited action, stationary movement and antics from Romero left fans less than satisfied for the 25-minute duration. UFC 248 literally went from the highest of highs to the lowest of the lows with the instant classic co-main event between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk preceding the headliner. The pill was even harder to swallow considering how incredible Adesanya looked winning the title against Robert Whittaker — a performance that came after his own all-time classic against Kelvin Gastelum, winning the interim title.

“Bits of this reared its ugly head [later on] but I squash it now cause I’m a dog and I know how to handle it,” Adesanya said. “But after that fight, I was like, ‘I was fighting, he was just standing there, why are you blaming me?’ That’s why this now, I’m like whatever. I know what I’m gonna do. But that was my first time where I kind of felt like yuck, I hate to say it, ‘The fans turned on me’ in a way, where I was like, ‘Wait what? Now they’re saying I’m s—t. Did you not watch the one before this? The one before-before that?’

“That’s why in that Costa fight I had that chip on my shoulder and I was just like watch this.”

Now preparing for an MMA trilogy bout with old kickboxing rival Alex Pereira, Adesanya’s won three times since his loss to Blachowicz, two of which were complete shutouts vs. Marvin Vettori and most recently, Jared Cannonier. In between those outings was a competitive rematch with Whittaker. However, a sticking point surrounding Adesanya has become that he may not be so entertaining to watch anymore, whether that’s his fault or his opponent’s.

“That was like the worst for me,” Adesanya said. “It wasn’t the ‘worst,’ but it was just the narrative and the voices that were loud. They were probably the minority but they were the loudest voices — the eat-ass c***s. That’s why I went into that Costa fight just free like, I’m gonna show you what’s up.

“These last two fights, for me, I fought people. But the expectation on myself, I didn’t meet my expectations.”


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I can’t disagree with him. The Romero fight was one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen. Not the worst … but definitely incredibly disappointing. Though at the same time, I wasn’t surprised and no one should have been considering that stylistic clash.

Happy Friday, folks! Enjoy the weekend to the fullest and thanks as always for reading!



If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.