UFC 248 – Picks on Adesanya vs Romero & More
February 14, 2020
This UFC 248 is a very fun pay per view card that comes equipped with two title fights, the return of a high end prospect at bantamweight and the next step up for a potential contender at middleweight.
UFC 248 Betting Primer
We get a very nice pay per view card, despite having some changes to the fight card and the highly anticipated Shahbazyan vs Brunson fight being moved to the Harris vs Overeem card on April 11th.
This is a card that will bring big excitement for viewing purposes on the main pay per view card and a couple of sound bets, with additional very sound bets on the undercard. As far as pay per view events go, this one is not the highest end like the ones we get on International Fight Week, but it is close and is certainly one to schedule yourself to watch.
Let’s get to the PPV portion fight breakdowns and the bets.
Betting Play Rundown
- Jingliang -180
- Griffin +120
- Oliveira/Griffin ITD +100
- Meerschart +120
- Emmers -175
Pay Per View Card
Israel Adesanya -280 vs Yoel Romero
Fight is five rounds at 185 lbs and is -160 to end inside the distance.
For the Middleweight Championship.
This will technically be Adesanya’s first title defense after unifying the belt in his impressive win over Robert Whittaker. This fight was ear marked to be against Paolo Costa who won a very narrow decision against Romero in his last fight. With Costa requiring bicep surgery, Adesanya asked for a fight with freak of nature Romero, which is probably a questionable decision. Romero is a hulk of a middleweight who is a coin flip to make weight for every middleweight fight he enters, but is just mammoth in the cage. He is a low volume yet explosive striker and a very high end wrestler. He will certainly be the most physical test for Adesanya to date. Adeanya is an extremely high end, long and elusive striker whose grappling is the weak part of his game, but he is so elusive that it hasn’t truly been tested. This is a fight where it will be critical for him to keep that trend moving. Adesanya will be the busier fighter in just about every iteration of this fight, and it is difficult to envision any decision path to victory for Romero barring an unlikely amount of top control time on the floor. Romero will need to land one of his heavy power strikes that take opponents out, and he is capable, but would be the first to do so to Adesnaya. Likewise, Romero has never been finished in the UFC and is quite durable. Adesanya could be the first, but I do believe it would have to be via attrition as opposed to landing the perfect strike. All in all this will be a joy to watch but there isn’t a sound betting play. Just sit back and enjoy the main event.
If you feel an absolute need for action I think there’s more value in taking the underdog Romero.
Weili Zhang -170 vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Fight is five rounds at 115 lbs and is +115 to end inside the distance.
For the Women’s Strawweight Championship.
This is such an interesting fight as the body of work is still fairly small for Zhang, but she is the type of opponent that can truly make Joanna struggle. Joanna’s body of work remains the greatest ever at women’s strawweight, but she is correctly a small underdog in this fight. Zhang brings a power element that is very rare in the 115 lb division, as evidenced by her knockout of Jessica Andrade to win the belt. Joanna remains a world class striker and her speed and quickness are likely and advantage in this fight. I do believe is Zhang does not secure an early KO, she will be at a disadvantage in the later rounds, as the volume of Joanna is high end and steady. If we do see grappling in this fight, the edge belongs to Zhang, but it would be surprising to see her control Joanna on the floor. This is another fight to enjoy from a viewing perspective instead of a gambling perspective as it will be highly enjoyable and is well matched.
If you require action on this one, I’d recommend a hedge of Joanna +140 with Zhang via KO +190.
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Beneil Dariush -170 vs Drakkar Klose
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +105 to end inside the distance.
This is a well made fight, but one that feels undeserving of a slot on the main pay per view card. Dariush is a BJJ black belt that has had a resurgence of late, and has seen his striking close the gap to his grappling. Klose is a fighter that is above average at most things but elite at none and generally sees his fights go to close decisions. This is not the greatest fight of the night and I think it goes to a decision and doesn’t have a sound bet to be had.
If you must bet, I’d say the grappling skill set of Dariush would get him the decision call.
Li Jingliang -180 vs Neil Magny
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -170 to end inside the distance.
Rejoice! We have gotten to our first bet of the night! Neil Magny returns after a year and a half absence after taking a brutal beating in his KO loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio. He was truly decimated in the striking in that fight and this one sets up to play out similarly. Magny will have the edge if he is able to force grappling exchanges, but I do believe it is far more likely Jingliang touches him and hurts him while standing. JIngliang ahs shored up his takedown defense after being shaky to start his UFC tenure. He was taken down five times in his first two UFC fights in 2014 and has only been taken down six times in his 10 fights since. He’s also secured a knockout in his last two fights, bringing his total to six in the promotion and he stands a great chance to make it seven on Saturday. Even if he can’t find the finish, he will control the striking and ride that to a decision win.
Alex Oliveira -145 vs Max Griffin
Fight is at 170 lbs and is +100 to end inside the distance.
This should be a fun one, as “Cowboy” Oliveira fights generally are. His fights don’t see the scorecard often as just 4 of 16 of his UFC fights have gone to decision. Oliveira is generally a finish hunter until he gasses, at which point he almost becomes a sitting duck for his opponents. Oliveria has been dangerous throughout his career, finishing opponents via both KO and submission, but his form has been off of late. He’s lost three straight fights and if he isn’t able to secure a very early finish in this one, it will be four straight and his job will begin to be in danger. Griffin is more steady and he is well rounded, but he isn’t much of a finisher and his fights tend to hit the scorecards. Griffin is tough however and the only fighter that’s been able to finish him in the octagon is elite Colby Covington. I do believe he survives the early danger and wears down Oliveira enough to finish him late or to take the decision. We will attempt a double dip with a play on the underdog Griffin as well as ITD for the fight. This covers the outcome of an early Oliveira win and allows us the chance to double dip with a third round ground and pound finish for Griffin.
Deron Winn -145 vs Gerald Meerschart
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -110 to end inside the distance.
Deron Winn will always have the most short and odd build for the welterweight division, as he is only 5’’6” tall. He is a great wrestler and willing to push forward into the pocket, but this is an ugly stylistic matchup for him. Meerschart is a high end submission fighter and is great off of his back, so Winn working his wrestling would put him squarely in the danger zone of getting finished. Meerschart will also have a 7” advantage in both height and reach and he will be able to use his kicks to keep Winn on the outside and Winn is very very hittable once he works his way inside. Meerschart as an underdog is one of the best values on the card and he has paths to victory via both decision and submission and is quite a sound play.
Jamall Emmers -175 vs Giga Chikadze
Fight is at 145 lbs and is -125 to end inside the distance.
Jamall Emmers makes his promotional debut, and gets quite a sound stylistic matchup to do so. Chikadze brings a sound kickboxing skill set but is still green in the grappling department. Emmers is a sound wrestler and should have his way with entries and more so, should be able to control in top position and win rounds that way. A finish on the floor is certainly not out of the question but this fight will be decided in the grappling realm, where Emmers carries a large advantage. This perhaps won’t be the most exciting fight of the night, but we have an advantage to attack and Emmers should immediately get to work with his wrestling as he is mostly outclassed on the feet.
Picks For Remaining Fights
- Sean O’Malley via second round KO
- Mark O Madsen via decision
- Rodolfo Vieira via first round submission
- Emily Whitmire via decision
- Guido Cannetti via decision
Look Ahead Adesanya vs Romero
The first title fight is the second title defense for rising star Israel Adesanya in the middleweight (185 lbs) division. He won the interim title in a close fight with Kelvin Gastelum and then dominated Robert Whittaker to unify the title. Technically this could be called Adesanya’s first title defense.
With Paolo Costa on the shelf, Yoel Romero steps in for technically his fourth crack at middleweight gold, but his biggest opponent is often himself before he ever sets foot in the cage. Romero is simply a specimen and a gigantic middleweight, so big that making weight is a back breaker for him and he is in his own way as much as his opponents are. In his first shot at gold in July of 2017, he made weight but lost a close decision to Whittaker. He then had a crack at the interim title in February of 2018 and he knocked out Luke Rockhold. The problem there is he missed weight by three pounds so he was ineligible for the title.
In June of 2018 he got his second shot at Whittaker for the gold, but again missed weight by just a pound, and was not eligible for the title. This was a razor thin war that many thought Romero won but Whittaker got the nod in a split decision. Romero went on to have a war with Costa and lost another razor thin decision but gets this opportunity before Costa returns. Overall Romero is 9-3 in the promotion and has never been finished and will present an element of physicality that the undefeated Adesanya has never seen before. Adesanya is set as a -255 betting favorite and this feels correct to a tick high in what could turn out to be a classic.
Zhang vs Jedrzekczyk
The other title on this UFC 248 card is the women’s strawweight division (115 lbs). The current champion Weili Zhang will defend her title against the all time greatest women’s featherweight Joanna Jedrzekczyk. After losing her very first fight in 2013, Zhang has won 20 straight including four in the UFC and the most recent being her KO of Jessica Andrade to claim the gold.
Joanna started her career with 14 straight wins, and held the strawweight title from 2015 to 2017, when she lost to Rose Namajunas via KO after a very bad weight cut. The rematch saw a close fight that I personally thought Joanna won fairly easily but the judges gave Namajunas the nod who in turn lost the title to Andrade who lost it to Zhang. This interim period saw Joanna go up to 125 lbs to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight title. She showed heart but was simply too undersized and at too much of a power disadvantage to overcome Shevchenko. She bounced back with a dominant win over paper title hopeful Michelle Waterson and is now back at the top challenging for the title. The oddsmakers have Zhang as a -185 favorite and that is on the higher end of where I would set it, but it is in the proper range, and we should get a great fight. Make note, the winner of this fight has a daunting task in the future as the best pound for pound wrestler in MMA is coming for them, Tatiana Suarez.
Other Pay Per View Fights
Also on the UFC 248 Pay Per View portion of the event is the return of Sugar Sean O’Malley, a real prospect at bantamweight. Still just 25 years old, the undefeated O’Malley returns as a -285 favorite against Jose Quinonez. In the fight leading up to that one, rising middleweight contender Edmen Shahbazyan takes on Derek Brunson in the toughest test of his career, and is set as a -235 favorite.