Defeated UFC middleweight challenger, Yoel Romero said he fought with a ghost in Saturday night’s title challenger against Nigerian born Isreal Adesanya.
Romero started Saturday the fight against Adesanya standing completely motionless, covering his face with his hands in a shell-like guard. Things didn’t get any less weird as the fight wore on.
In one of the least active and most bizarre title fights in UFC history, Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight title against Romero via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena.
The judges scored it 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46, ESPN reports.
“I did what I had to do and picked him apart,” Adesanya said. “The legs don’t lie. I f—ed his leg up.”
Adesanya and Romero combined for only 88 significant strikes. That total was the least in a UFC middleweight title fight since UFC 112 on April 10, 2010, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That bout, between Anderson Silva and Demian Maia, had 71 combined significant strikes.
Romero landed his best shot in the first round, a huge left that Adesanya ate. Adesanya landed leg kicks throughout, and Romero was content to shell up and launch huge left haymakers as counters. There were long periods in which no one landed anything.
Before the fourth round, referee Dan Miragliotta warned both about their timidity and urged them to pick up the pace.
When the final bell rang, Adesanya and Romero, both clearly frustrated, went chest to chest and had to be separated by Miragliotta as the crowd showered them with jeers.
The fans booed the result after booing throughout. At one point in the third round, people in the crowd started shining the flashlights on their cellphones.
“It’s not the fight I wanted to have,” Adesanya said at his postfight news conference. “I had a different vision for how this fight was gonna end, but it takes two to tango. I can’t force a guy to fight. I can force a guy to make mistakes, which I did by exposing his legs later on. But for me, if a guy stands there for the first two minutes and has his hands up, am I supposed to risk my belt and get clipped by him?
“That was really bizarre. I might as well have just used a training dummy at my gym as my sparring partner. It was just really bizarre because I was expecting a little bit more.”
Afterward, Romero said it was “my victory.” The fans, who cheered him following the decision, seemed to agree. Adesanya outlanded Romero in three of the five rounds: the second, third and fourth, according to UFC Stats.
Romero expressed disappointment that he couldn’t give fans an exciting fight and was critical of Adesanya for turning it into “a running match.” He said every time he tried to engage Adesanya in the fight, Adesanya would “disappear.”
“It’s impossible to fight against a ghost,” Romero said through an interpreter at his postfight news conference. “I’m gonna start training for track or cross-country because obviously [Adesanya] is a cross-country and a track star, so I need to catch up to his sport.”
Romero said he wasn’t frustrated about his performance but felt ashamed for the fans.
“I feel that the fight game now is whoever runs the fastest is the winner,” Romero said.