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UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC 248 fight card in Las Vegas, NV.

The Bloody Elbow team has made its picks for UFC 248, and the majority of us are backing Israel Adesanya to beat Yoel Romero in the main event to successfully defend his middleweight title. Meanwhile, the consensus is that Weili Zhang will defend her title by beating Joanna Jedrzejcyk in the co-main event.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons.

Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero

Anton Tabuena: This is pretty straight forward, but it doesn’t mean it’s an easy pick. Adesanya should be by far the more technical striker, but Romero has the great equalizer and can turn the tide or end it at any time, even during the latter rounds. Adesanya, who has already been clocked in the past, can’t really afford to have that happen here. He will have to make sure his defense is on point and he stays disciplined during the entire duration of the contest. Can he do it? It won’t be easy, but yes. Romero will probably take some rounds off again, and if Adesanya can pressure intelligently and punish him there, he’s less likely to still be explosive and as dangerous as the fight wears on. One mistake and Romero could end it, but on bouts like this, I’m more likely to pick the better skilled MMA fighter. Israel Adesanya by decision.

Zane Simon: It’s absolutely fascinating to me that Adesanya has the edge on knockdown ratio, as well expected edges in volume and accuracy for striking. Romero is terribly dangerous, and tends to build toward massive 3rd rounds. But against fighters tough enough to ride out his damage, he has had some trouble getting clear, definitive wins. Adesanya has been KO’d once before, in kickboxing, by a cleaner puncher, but I don’t think I can just follow that loss to say Romero will reproduce it. For the most part, if Romero doesn’t land a perfect shot to put someone out, he has trouble following up with clean punches to end the bout. Even if he hurts Adesanya bad, I think Izzy can ride the damage out and come back to win the fight. Israel Adesanya by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Dude, I really want to pick Romero here. Let’s be real, though - the fights start standing and Adesanya has all the avenues and advantages there. I doubt he’ll focus much on leg kicks but he can employ body shots and weave his way in and out of exchanges to do more damage and wear out Romero’s cardio in the process. Uppercuts and knees in the clinch should be key, along with using length and reach. The Cuban boogeyman gets flustered in this one. Israel Adesanya by decision.

Staff picking Adesanya: Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Romero: Ed, Dayne

Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Anton Tabuena: Both are very skilled strikers, and maybe I’m crazy, but I just think Joanna will be completely outgunned here in strength, power and explosiveness. I still believe that despite the loss to Shevchenko, 125 is a better weight class for Joanna, as her durability seems questionable after these big cuts to 115. Joanna is great at range, but she has the tendency to spend too long exchanging in the pocket, where she has been wobbled and hurt even by shots that aren’t that big/clean. If that happens against Zhang — who is probably by far the most athletic striker she’s faced in the UFC — it will end up badly for her. Weili Zhang by TKO.

Zane Simon: I’m not necessarily convinced that Zhang is a powerful enough striker to just put Joanna away. That Andrade win looks a lot more like a flukey set of circumstance for a quick KO than the kind of work Zhang has normally done. That said, I still think that Zhang will win this fight. Joanna has a problem with counter punching, especially with her ability to see left hooks coming, and Zhang throws a lot of counters. Zhang also has a mean bodylock takedown game and the power to make it work well early. As the fight goes on, however, Joanna only tends to get sharper, and pretty much always wins 5th rounds. Expect Zhang to start strong, win early, and for Joanna to pick it up late. But just don’t think that will be enough to get Joanna the win. Weili Zhang by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: The one thing Joanna hasn’t figured out here is that she won’t be able to be the bully here. Zhang is stronger, just as fast, just as aggressive, and hasn’t shown signs of bad cardio yet. Joanna’s gonna eat counters and won’t be able to keep things in her ideal range, and if she gets taken down, Zhang’s top control and strikes from top position will put her at a disadvantage on the scorecards. Weili Zhang by TKO, round 4.

Staff picking Zhang: Mookie, Shak, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Jedrzejczyk: Ed, Dayne, Phil (read his pick in Toe to Toe)

Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose

Phil Mackenzie: Beneil Dariush is better at almost everything than Drakkar Klose. He is a better striker, offensive wrestler, top control player, submission grappler etc. He pressures more effectively and is better on the back foot as well. However, he’s been spending more and more time in fights rushing into the clinch to preserve his shaky chin. Klose seems almost infinitely durable, and is huge and strong and grinds away forever. Dariush’s second weakness is that he has tended to slow somewhat as fights go deep. The best analogue for a big slow relentless golem like Klose is Evan Dunham, and Dariush salvaged a draw by kicking the crap out of Dunham in the first round. Klose is less tricky and skilled than Dunham, but also far harder to hurt in the same way. Drakkar Klose by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Like Phil mentioned above, Dariush is probably better technically at everything than Klose. But... not by a huge amount. Most notably Klose can be a very willing, dedicated pressure fighter who throws a ton of volume. To back that up, he lives on his insane durability. Klose is also a good athlete, and tough to take down and easily out-grapple. If Klose makes this a war, I think Dariush will get some licks in, but eventually I have to trust Klose’s chin to carry him through to a win. Drakkar Klose by TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Dariush: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Anton, Stephie
Staff picking Klose: Phil, Zane, Victor

Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang

Anton Tabuena: China is probably going undefeated at UFC 248. Li Jingliang by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: I like Neil Magny, and enjoyed his gritty run to a UFC ranking, but opponents who pressure behind jabs and low kicks have been absolutely nightmarish matchups. Not only is that the Leech’s A-game, but one which he’s gotten much better at, including a career-best dismantling of ZdS. Should Magny survive he’s a surprisingly effective fighter down the stretch: he can pile up jab volume, work his body lock takedowns and ground and pound, but like the Ponz fight, this just has ugly beating written all over it. Li Jingliang by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: There’s a chance that Magny can just clinch and wrestle his way to a decision, but I don’t think it’s a great one. Even at his best, Magny is rarely a physically dominating fighter. And Jingliang at least tends to know how to survive on the ground. Standing Jingliang is just a much more deft and capable boxer. He builds will with power shots behind his jab, gets tougher as the fight goes on, and throws combos to all levels. Generally, against good boxers, if Magny has to stay standing, he tends to get tagged up. Li Jingliang by TKO, round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: I believe Magny when he says he’s made the most of his time off and wants to come back better. He’d better hope so, because Jangle Leg is a problem. Dude can wrestle, hits like he’s got boat anchors for hands and always has more than one moment of unpredictability. Li Jingliang by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Magny:
Staff picking Jingliang: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie (JANGALANG!), Zane, Victor (no, Steph - it’s Jangle Leg)

Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin

Phil Mackenzie: Alex Oliveira tends to start strong and confident, and then peter out as his weird approach gets solved and he gets tired. Max Griffin is a more worrying proposition: he’s settled himself on a technical game that he doesn’t really have the depth to make work. He’s always been a wooden one-two striker, but hasn’t been quite as allergic to exchanges as he has been lately. If this one gets into the third it’s going to be weird, but I essentially trust Oliveira to build out an early lead. Alex Oliveira by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Griffin has really looked a bit lost lately. He seems like he’s trying to be a more technical fighter, but that’s come with having to unlearn some of his former habits. That’s a tough place to be. Oliveira, on the other hand, has always been a fighter developing himself from the ground up. A flowy, one strike at a time kickboxer at range. And an aggressive top position grappler when the opportunity is there. He does have a tendency to fade hard against opponents who aren’t immediately willing to back down from him, but I have a lot more faith in him being dangerous here, than I do in Griffin staying technical. Alex Oliveira by KO round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Agreeing with Zane is bad, but agreeing with Phil? I need a shower after this. Can’t trust Griffin here. Alex is too crafty for his shenanigans and should be able to use that grown man strength appropriately. Between the leg kicks and elbows, Brazilian Cowboy should be able to stay ahead. Alex Oliveira by TKO.

Staff picking Oliveira: Mookie, Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Griffin: Ed, Dayne

Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez

Phil Mackenzie: O’Malley has had some odd fights thus far. He’s been passing his tests, but Terrion Ware and Andre Soukhamthath are deeply flawed opponents. Quinonez is mostly a movement-based kicks’n’takedowns guy, and Nathaniel Wood exposed that game fairly badly. O’Malley doesn’t cover distance as aggressively as Wood can, but he should be able to push Quinonez into the fence and carve him up. Sean O’Malley by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: When an opponent lets Quinonez dictate pace and range, he can put together a pretty solid performance. But anyone who can keep him on the backfoot, can just as easily dismantle his game. Mostly, in exchanges, Quinonez tends to get hit hard. He may be able to get O’Malley down a couple times, but I don’t think he’ll keep him there. After that, O’Malley has a pretty dedicated, creative pressuring style. It seems made to get Quinonez uncomfortable and working with his back against the cage. Sean O’Malley by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: You gotta feel bad for Teco, man. Just going off MMAth, Andre Soukhamthath is better than Teco, and Sean beat Andre. We know what the agenda is here. This is a fight to box Quiñonez out the paint and out of the UFC. It’s actually kind of gross, too. But whatever. Dude that smokes an admirable amount of weed by TKO.

Staff picking O’Malley: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Quinonez:

Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard

Anton Tabuena: Wrestling! Mark Madsen by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Mark Madsen did what he was supposed to in his last fight and then some, blowing an overmatched Danilo Belluardo out of the water in just over a minute. Hubbard has the wrestling to make this a scrap, but probably not the wrestling to actually win it. Mark Madsen by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Hubbard has often relied on his ability to be the more physically imposing man in a fight. Someone who will be tough, and come forward, when the opportunity presents itself. But, opponents who aren’t overawed by him have been able to put him on the back foot without much trouble, and box him up a bit. Madsen likely won’t out-punch him, but if Hubbard is going to backing up, he’ll likely let Madsen shoot as often as he wants. Mark Madsen by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I loved watching Madsen on the Euro scene, and it’s because he’s not just a wrestler. Dude knows how to put power on his shots, a bit like Josh Emmett. Not to an exact level, but what I’m saying is that the dude is putting it together and throws heat. Mark Omnipotent Madsen by TKO.

Staff picking Madsen: Ed, Dayne, Mookie. Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Hubbard:

Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov

Anton Tabuena: Jiujitsu! Rodolfo Vieira by submission.

Phil Mackenzie: Straight out of central casting for a Stephen King novel, Saparbek Safarov would be the evil janitor that is whispered to by demonic forces; the one that ends up meeting a grisly end. He is a short-tempered, evil-looking hairy man with a moderate skillset in wrestling, and a much deeper one in fouling the shit out of his opponents. It is almost endearing how purely horrible he is. Almost. Rodolfo Vieira by submission, round 1.

Zane Simon: Vieira is a willing power puncher and wrestler off the front foot, and has a well timed reactive shot when opponents come after him. Safarov is a wildman, but susceptible to pretty much all forms of offense at all times. Unless Safarov just catches Vieira with something wild and puts him out, this should be Rodolfo Vieira by submission, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: (Laughs in BJJ) Hodolfo Vieira by porrada.

Staff picking Vieira: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Safarov:

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn

Anton Tabuena: I’m surprised that the others disagree on who would Winn here. Deron Winn by Decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Deron Winn is just too short. Meerschaert is perhaps not the world’s greatest round-winner or strategic fighter, but he is pretty big for middleweight, can fight well at range, and handle himself on the mat. Winn is going to have to struggle past the left body kick and left hand, and then will have to worry about getting tied up on the ground. Gerald Meerschaert by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Winn’s loss to Darren Stewart is concerning. After a little initial takedown success, he gassed out pretty quick and had to fight the rest of the fight on fumes. Stewart is a good athlete (better than Meerschaert) but he’s also been a fighter susceptible to the kind of pressure that Winn put on Eric Spicely. Meerschaert may not be as athletic as Stewart, but he is more athletic than Spicely. Does that mean Winn can out-work him without exhausting himself trying to control him? Or does it mean that he hits that same wall as Stewart. For his part, Meerschaert is also incredibly tough and a very crafty consistent grappler who is good at picking up subs late on fading opponents. Winn may bully him, and will probably win round 1, but I trust Meerschaert’s composure a lot more. Gerald Meerschaert by submission, round 3.

Victor Rodriguez: Gerald has some of the most underrated BJJ games in the sport, and he’s in against a guy shorter than me that’s really ought to be fighting at featherweight. Winn packs a punch and is a hellacious wrestler. And as much love as I have for Gerald, I can’t trust him against a guy that has his game more together and can keep a pace for longer. Deron Winn by decision.

Staff picking Meerschaert: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Phil, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Winn: Anton, Victor

Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana

Phil Mackenzie: Viana is a kill-or-die, R1-or-bust fighter, and Whitmire is somewhat wooden but at least fairly tough (if not exactly submission immune). Similar to Griffin-Oliveira, this could get real weird if it goes late but I guess I’ll take Viana to lose her early lead, simply because she’s literally only ever won one fight that went past R1. Emily Whitmire by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Viana is the more dangerous fighter of the two women, with her aggressive sub game, but she’s also shown a lot more ability to lose to whatever fighter is put in front of her. Even against Maia Stevenson she got reversed and had to battle back to get the win. Whitmire may not be incredibly athletic, but she seems incredibly consistent about what she wants to do and how. I think she can tough out some rough spots for this win. Emily Whitmire by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Nope, can’t trust Whitmire here. She can wrestle, but Viana can outstrike her, work volume and submit her. Polyana Viana by submission.

Staff picking Whitmire: Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Phil, Zane
Staff picking Viana: Ed, Anton, Stephie, Victor

Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti

Phil Mackenzie: Cannetti is an OK wrestler and has picked up a surprising amount of experience in the UFC. That’s enough for me to pick him over a somewhat formless puncher. Guido Cannetti by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Batgerel is a decent, fun fighter with a capable striking game going forward and backward, but he’s also not the best athlete or most dangerous striker. Cannetti is a hot mess, but a super powerful, dynamic one. Dude has kicks for miles and will absolutely rush people with powerful offense right out of the gate. He also seems to self destruct given enough time, but I just don’t think Batgerel is dangerous enough to really turn the tide into a win. Guido Cannetti via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Ninja vs Batgirl? I kid, I kid. I like Guido, but maybe Batgerel won’t rely on being the ballsier fighter and keeps his cool to outwork Cannetti. Danaa Batgerel by decision.

Staff picking Batgerel: Dayne, Mookie, Shak, Stephie
Staff picking Cannetti: Ed, Phil, Anton, Zane

Jamall Emmers vs. Giga Chikadze

Phil Mackenzie: A soft step-up for Chikadze, but not necessarily an easy one, because he’s modestly overperforming in the UFC already. His ground game just isn’t there yet, so if Emmers pushes him in the grappling he can probably hit takedowns and capitalize on Chikadze’s tendency to throw up subs. That being said, while Emmers can hit takedowns, he tends to spend most of his time striking at range. Can’t predict him to show an approach which I haven’t seen. Giga Chikadze by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: Chikadze has holes in his game still, but if Emmers stands with this Glory vet, it will be a long (or short) night for him. Giga Chikadze by TKO

Zane Simon: Emmers has some wrestling and grappling chops he could turn to here to get the win, he’s even beat Cory Sandhagen at one point. But, for the most part, he’s a very complacent striker who will spend a lot of time out in the middle distance of kickboxing range, working an alright, but not exceptional boxing game. If he’s going to hang around at distance with Chikadze, he’ll probably get slept. Giga Chikadze via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Emmers: Dayne, Shak
Staff picking Chikadze: Mookie, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane, Victor


Who raises their hand in the UFC 251 Main Event?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Kamaru Usman
    (1786 votes)
  • 44%
    Jorge Masvidal
    (1441 votes)
3227 votes total Vote Now


Who wins the Co-Main Event at UFC 251?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Alexander Volkanovski
    (1795 votes)
  • 40%
    Max Holloway
    (1223 votes)
3018 votes total Vote Now