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UFC 248: Are the UFC rolling the dice on their surging superstar Israel Adesanya?

UFC 248: Are the UFC rolling the dice on their surging superstar Israel Adesanya?
The UFC has a bona-fide superstar on their hands in reigning middleweight king Israel Adesanya, but what would a defeat to 42-year-old Yoel Romero, who comes into the fight on the back of two defeats, do to his legacy?

For most fighters, a run of two successive losses would spell the end of their title aspirations, but when you are an Olympic medalist capable of performing backflips while wearing jeans, conventional rules don't often apply.

Despite his advancing age, Romero remains one of the sternest tests in the UFC's middleweight division. The aforementioned losses - two to former champion Robert Whittaker and one to Brazilian slugger Paulo Costa - were all particularly close affairs and came against fighters considered to be among the elite of the weight class.

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But if there is one man at 185lbs who currently stands above all others, it is Adesanya. The New Zealander boasts an impressive 18-0 record but also a crowd-pleasing style, blending pre-fight pageantry with in-ring brutality.

His brief UFC tenure and subsequent rise to the world title has been just as impressive as Adesanya swore it would be when he debuted with the organization a little over two years ago.

Each shot, it seems, was called along the way to the point that when he finally claimed undisputed UFC gold, it didn't seem as much a coronation but confirmation that the Kiwi was, indeed, the best fighter in his weight class.

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I was bare feet wearing Y’izzys 👟

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Romero, though, can be that guy too. The best credentialed grappler in the division, he is blessed with the type of innate athleticism one expects of a video game character and not a man only a few months away from his 43rd birthday.

And therein lies the danger for Adesanya. "The Last Stylebender" called for this bout to be made while he waits for number one contender Paulo Costa to recover from a bicep injury, but this could very well be a "be careful what you wish for" situation for the Kiwi. 

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Romero is capable of beating anyone in the middleweight division, the champion included, and it is very much to Adesanya's credit that he opted to fight instead of sitting on the sidelines awaiting Costa's return.

But this is no "gimme fight." Romero possesses the ideal arsenal to hand Adesanya his first career defeat and to bring the Kiwi into the trenches, much like Kelvin Gastelum did last April. 

And if there is a new champion crowned on Saturday night in Las Vegas, both Adesanya and the UFC will be forgiven for thinking that this was an entirely avoidable outcome. 

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