Two massive title fights are set to go down this Saturday night as both the UFC middleweight and strawweight championships are up for grabs.
Headlined by the first 185 lbs title defence of Israel Adesanya as he takes on the ever-dangerous Yoel Romero, the co-main event sees Weili Zhang in the same boat as champion as she prepares to square off against the former long-reigning champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Elsewhere there are intriguing and exciting match-ups like Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang, Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Quinonez and Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard so UFC 248 looks set to be one of the better UFC events of the year.
Israel Adesanya (18-0) vs. Yoel Romero (13-4)
This fight may well start out slow but it could quickly kick into gear.
Both Adesanya and Romero take their time making reads on their opponents before initiating their respective attacks.
In Adesanya you have a more deliberate and accurate striker thanks to his kickboxing background while Romero is much more explosive with singular strikes.
Admittedly, Romero has a clear advantage when it comes to wrestling but he rarely goes to that well and even then won’t use it to nullify and smother.
As a result of Romero’s preferences, you’d expect this fight to keep to a striking battle and Adesanya should be happy in his wheelhouse.
While Romero’s power can certainly be a fight ender, Adesanya’s output and accuracy should see him over the line as long as he keeps his defensive responsibilities.
Pick: Israel Adesanya
Weili Zhang (20-1) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3)
Much like the main event, this fight pits power vs. accuracy although this fight is more balanced between the two.
Zhang is a strong, physical presence at strawweight but has shown a decent gas tank to supplement her game.
Jedrzejczyk meanwhile is much more attuned to the five-round fight and is more than comfortable producing a big output over 25 minutes.
This fight should be decided by who can dictate the range as Jedrzejczyk’s jab could rack up the rounds, especially late one, while Zhang’s ability to counter and find trips inside can open up a finish.
It’s a tough fight to call as Zhang has yet to face a striker as talented as the former champion but I’ll side with ‘Magnum’ to cause more damage.
Pick: Weili Zhang
Beneil Dariush (17-4-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (11-1-1)
Both fighters are good in the grind of a fight but I think Dariush is the more nuanced of the two.
While Klose has durability, strength and aggression, Dariush has shown a more technical game on the feet and is a talented submission artist on the mat.
Klose will be buoyed by Dariush’s losses coming against aggressive opponents but I think with Dariush’s recent form and experience at a higher level, the Iranian-born American will pick up the win.
Pick: Beneil Dariush
Neil Magny (21-7) vs. Li Jingliang (17-5)
Magny has been out of action for nearly two years now and a fight against Li Jingliang is seemingly throwing him into the deep end after his last performance.
While Magny has shown to be a decent rangy striker with good wrestling, Jingliang has the tools to be Magny’s worst nightmare thanks to his own counter wrestling ability and pressuring striking.
With a good jab, decent leg kicks and power to boot, I think Jingliang can get another decisive victory to his name here.
Pick: Li Jingliang
Alex Oliveira (20-8-1, 2 NC) vs. Max Griffin (15-7)
For Griffin to win this bout he’ll need to take the fight deep and avoid Oliveira’s physicality.
Whether he can do that consistently over 15 minutes is another question though.
Griffin has shown that he can produce steady offensive output but he is often hit as much as he gives out and I’m not sure that will stand good stead against Oliveira.
Pick: Alex Oliveira
(Last Predictions: 3/5, Total: 22/32, 69% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)