Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Israel Adesanya will get his wish.
The middleweight champion will make his first title defense against Yoel Romero in the UFC 248 main event on March 7 from Las Vegas.
Multiple sources confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Thursday following an initial report from ESPN quoting UFC president Dana White.
Following his stunning knockout to defeat Robert Whittaker to win the title this past October, Adesanya was expected to face Paulo Costa next but the Brazilian suffered an injury that will delay his return to action.
With that fight delayed, Adesanya turned his attention to Romero, who is a former two-time title contender in his own right.
“As a fighter I want to fight the guy everyone thinks can beat me,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting last November. “Everyone was hyping up the Robert [Whittaker] fight like how are you going to beat Robert? He went 10 rounds with Romero! I was like and the f*ck what? At the press conference, I said ‘so the f*ck what?’.
“[Romero is] good but people think he’s this boogieman, maybe it’s just the muscle thing but everybody thinks muscles win fights but not in this era.”
Since joining the UFC roster, Adesanya has remained undefeated including wins over Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum and former middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Now he’ll face Romero, who will take his third stab at becoming undisputed champion after losing two razor close fights to Whittaker in the past.
The Cuban born wrestler, who won a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics, is 9-3 overall in the UFC with wins over several former champions such as Luke Rockhold, Lyoto Machida and Chris Weidman.
The middleweight title bout between Adesanya and Romero will headline the upcoming UFC 248 fight card with strawweight champion Zhang Weili defending her 115-pound title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event.
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