Israel Adesanya didn’t hold back in his assessment of Yoel Romero ahead of his first UFC middleweight title defence against the Cuban at UFC 248.
The Las Vegas showdown in two weeks is one of the most eagerly anticipated fights of 2020 as two of the organizations biggest names meet in what is sure to be an intriguing test for the newly crowned champion.
‘The Last Stylebender’ is one of the fastest-rising stars in the sport having made his UFC debut in February of 2018. The 18-0 fighter stormed his way through the middleweight division en route to capturing gold last October after knocking out Robert Whittaker in impressive style at UFC 243 in Melbourne.
— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) February 19, 2020
‘Soldier of God’ may have dropped a decision in his last two fights, however, the Olympic silver medalist wrestler is still one of the most feared fighters in the UFC.
Ahead of this weekend’s UFC Fight Night in Auckland, Adesanya appeared on stage at the Spark Arena to promote his upcoming title defence while the Cuban challenger appeared via video link. It didn’t take long for Adesanya to hit out at Romero over what Adesanya perceived to be “veteran” tricks as well as his history of missing weight.
“He’s a veteran, he’s an explosive guy, he likes to lull [his opponent] and then he explodes on them,” Adesanya said in quotes reported by ESPN.
“And when I say a veteran, he has certain moves that he likes to do; you’ve got stool-gate, grabbing the fence, things like that. Fact. Fact. Check the résumé.
“But for me, I just have to keep the same energy. Every fight I’ve had in the UFC was the biggest fight I’ve ever had, and this is no different; this is the biggest fight of my career thus far. I’m ready, two more weeks, I can see the finish line.”
The champion rubbished the notion that Romero is a fighter to be afraid of vowing to make his opponent “cry” in two week’s time.
“He’s the guy that no one wants to fight; he’s the oogey-boogeyman. Everyone keeps saying, even Darren Till [has said], ‘I’ll fight everyone but Yoel.’ Why? I’ve seen him get rocked. I’ve seen him stopped. I’ve seen him get bloodied. I’ve seen him cry. I’ll make him cry.
“He’s human like everyone else, and everyone likes to make this myth about he’s steel — you hit him and he doesn’t fall. I’ll hit him enough times and make him fall.”