Returning to Las Vegas, UFC presents a two-championship card at UFC 248. The main event sees UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya put his belt on the line for the first time, fighting Yoel Romero. The co-main sees fellow newly crowned fighter Zhang Weili fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC Strawweight Championship. From the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on Saturday, here’s a preview of the full card.
Early Prelims (6:30PM EST / 3:30PM PST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
The first part of the three-part card is on ESPN+ in America, and UFC Fight Pass in Canada. The card has three fights on it, and starts at 6:30PM EST.
Bout 1: Guido Cannetti (8-4) vs. Danaa Batgerel (7-2) (Bantamweight)
Opening the evening, Argentina’s Guido Cannetti faces Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel. Both fighters are looking to come back from a loss. Cannetti has been in the UFC since 2014, having a 2-3 record, flipping between wins and losses. He took 2019 off, with his most recent fight being a rear naked choke loss to Marlon Vero. Batgerel’s first UFC fight was in August, losing to Alatengheili on a card in Shenzhen, China.
Bout 2: Jamall Emmers (17-4) vs. Giga Chikadze (8-2) (Featherweight)
After a long career on the regional scene, Jamall Emmers sees his UFC debut against Giga Chikadze. Emmers was seen on the second season of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” losing to Julian Erosa, who went on to have a three-fight UFC run. Since then he has won four fights, including a third round win in the main event of LFA 81 in January. His opponent, Chikadze, got a split decision in September to begin his UFC run. He is on a three-fight winning streak currently.
Bout 3: Emily Whitmire (4-3) vs. Polyana Viana (10-4) (Strawweight)
Before the program switches to ESPN, Emily Whitmire and Polyana Viana fight. Whitmire missed the strawweight limit by one-and-a-half pounds, losing 20% of her fight purse to Viana because of it. Viana won her UFC debut in 2018, but has went on to lose her last three, making this a must-win for her. “Spitfire” Whitmire is also coming off of a loss, falling victime to a second round rear naked choke from Amanda Ribas. She also has four UFC fights in total, going 2-2 after competing in season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter.
CORRECTION: A previous edition of the article said that Polyana Viana had missed weight. The article has been updated to reflect that Emily Whitmire had actually missed weight.
Prelims (8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 4: Deron Winn (6-1) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (30-12) (Middleweight)
The fourth undercard is Deron Winn trying to come back from his first loss as a pro, facing Gerald Meerschaert. Winn made his UFC debut in 2019, getting a decision win over Eric Spicely. In October, he wasn’t as successful, as Darren Stewart prevailed in a split decision. Now he faces the much more experienced Meerschaert, who is coming off of his own loss. He debuted in the UFC in 2016, going 4-1 in his first five. His last four have brought more trouble, as he’s went 1-3. A third round guillotine choke against Trevin Giles is what broke the two-fight loss pattern.
Bout 5: Rodolfo Vieira (6-0) vs. Saparbeg Safarov (9-2) (Middleweight)
Undefeated Brazilian Rodolfo Vieira will return to fight Saparbeg Safarov. Safarov is the largest underdog on the card, coming in around +400 to +500 depending on the odds maker. Vieira had a powerful debut in August, stopping Oskar Piechota with a second round arm triangle. This was his sixth win as a pro, maintaining a 100% finish rate. Safarov got his first UFC win in March of last year in a scorecard win over Nick Negumereanu. Before then, he had lost two fights due to stoppage.
Bout 6: Mark Madsen (9-0) vs. Austin Hubbard (11-3) (Lightweight)
After one undefeated prospect fights, another will be on the stage in Mark Madsen. Madsen got a quick win in his UFC debut in September, defeating Danilo Belluardo with strikes on the ground. Representing Denmark, Madsen earned a silver medal in 75-kg Greco-Roman wrestling. Hubbard is 1-1 in the UFC, both decision contests. He won over Kyle Prepolec in September, which made him bounce back from a loss to Davi Ramos.
Bout 7: Jose Alberto Quinones (8-3) vs. Sean O’Malley (10-0) (Bantamweight)
After an extended absence from mixed-martial-arts, fan favourite “Sugar” Sean O’Malley will return in the featured UFC 248 prelim to fight Jose Alberto Quinones. O’Malley got a stoppage win on the second week of “Dana White’s Contender Series,” quickly becoming a star through his charisma shown on the show. He went on to win twice in the UFC via decision. However, from fall of 2018 until now, O’Malley has had trouble finding fights due to numerous run-ins with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Quinones was meant to face him in 2018, and now the fight is finally coming to fruition. Quinones got back in the win column with his last fight, going to a decision against Carlos Huachin in Mexico. Before then, a four-fight win streak was broken by a second round rear naked choke from Nathaniel Wood.
Main Card (10:00PM EST / 7:00PM PST) (PPV)
Bout 8: Alex Oliveira (20-8-1) vs. Max Griffin (15-7) (Welterweight)
The main card kicks off with two welterweight bouts. The first sees UFC veteran Alex Oliveira fight Max Griffin. Oliveira is on a three-fight losing streak which started in late 2018. Griffin has a 3-5 record in the UFC, recently not being favoured on scorecards against Alex Morono. Oliveira was accused of domestic violence in May, which he addressed publicly for the first time recently, denying.
Bout 9: Neil Magny (21-7) vs. Li Jingliang (17-5) (Welterweight)
The extremely violent performer Li Jingliang returns this weekend with a tough challenge in Neil Magny. Jingliang is on a three-fight winning streak. His last fight saw him pull off a stoppage with punches with only a few seconds left. Magny last appeared in 2018, losing to Santiago Ponzinibbio due to a fourth round knockout. He was set to fight Vicente Luque in 2019, but a USADA suspension sidelined him.
Bout 10: Beneil Dariush (17-4-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (11-1-1) (Lightweight)
In the final fight before the championship bouts, two lightweights on a roll face each other. Drakkar Klose comes into this fight on a three-fight win streak, the longest he’s has in the UFC so far. Only fighting in decision fights since joining the UFC in 2017, Klose has a record of 5-1. He fights Beneil Dariush, who finished his last two opponents. He won in October over Frank Camacho, putting in a rear naked choke to end the fight in just over two minutes. What’s most surprising is that these two fighters are not ranked. With the winner moving to four wins in a row, it would be only fitting if they’re listed in the top 15 lightweights next week.
Bout 11: Zhang Weili (20-1) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3) (UFC Strawweight Championship)
In 2019, three different fighters held the UFC Strawweight Championship. First it was Rose Namajunas, who lost her belt due to a rough slam from Jessica Andrade at UFC 237. Andrade lost the belt in her first defence, getting overwhelmed by punches in under a minute to Zhang Weili in Shenzhen, China. And now, we are here. Attempting to defend her strawweight belt for the first time, Weili faces former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Jedrzejczyk had the best strawweight belt run which spanned from 2015 to 2017. She defended the belt five times before losing it to Namajunas. In a rematch, Jedrzejczyk lost again. After winning a fight against Tecia Torres, Jedrzejczyk failed to win the UFC Flyweight Championship against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 231. In her most recent fight, the Polish fighter had a one-sided five round performance over Michelle Waterson, putting her next in line for a title shot.
Bout 12: Israel Adesanya (18-0) vs. Yoel Romero (13-4) (UFC Middleweight Championship)
If 2019 in the UFC could be defined by one fighter, it would be Israel Adesanya. Fighting three times in one year, Adesanya’s fast rise to a title shot was clearly justified by his dominant performances. His fight in April against Kelvin Gastelum was not only a great showing for Adesanya, but arguably the best fight in 2019.
Adesanya won the UFC Middleweight Championship in October, finishing Robert Whittaker in the third round after a one-sided striking battle. Whittaker had held the belt since 2017, but never made a defence as injury sidelined him often. He won the interim belt in 2017, defeating Yoel Romero. He beat Romero again in 2018, but through a split decision that time.
Romero will get another shot at a title this weekend, as he faces Adesanya in the main event. His last fight was a unanimous decision against Paulo Costa, where both fighters unleashed chaotic striking. There was some concern over Romero making weight on Friday, as he weighed in last with less that 20 minutes to go in the weigh-in process.
UFC’s next pay-per-view event is UFC 249, taking place on April 18th at the Barclays Center in New York, New York, USA. The main event is set to be Khabib Nurmagomedov making the third defence of his UFC Lightweight Championship. His opponent is Tony Ferguson, which is a long-awaited matchup that fans have come close to seeing before.
Next weekend, UFC goes to Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil for UFC on ESPN+ 28. The card, which has lots of Brazilian UFC talent is headlined by Brazil’s Charles Oliveira, fighting Kevin Lee.