A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 248 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Israel Adesanya (18-0) vs. Yoel Romero (13-3)
Class: For Adesanya’s middleweight title
Line: Adesanya -275
Storyline: The question about Adesanya always has been whether he could handle elite wrestlers. The flashy kickboxer has answered all challenges, but Romero should provide his stiffest challenge. He’s an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling and a former world champion. While he’s 42 and has evolved into more of a power striker, he still has wrestling skills. He would be wise to incorporate them into his primary game plan. There are few fighters capable of matching Adesanya on the feet, and Romero isn’t one of them in a five-round bout. He has the raw power to change the complexion of the division with one shot, but it’s not his best path to victory. Adesanya probably will try to establish the jab and stay on the outside until Romero wears down and then open up his striking toolbox.
Hill’s pick: Adesanya by decision
Fang’s pick: Adesanya by decision
Zhang Weili (19-1) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3)
Class: For Zhang’s women’s strawweight title
Line: Zhang -210
Storyline: Jedrzejczyk once was lauded as an unstoppable force in the division. That title now has been bestowed upon Zhang, whose workouts and pad sessions are legendary. Videos of her practices do high numbers online, and she proved the hype was real with a 42-second knockout of Jessica Andrade to win the belt in August. Jedrzejczyk believes her experience on the big stage will be a determining factor in getting the belt back from Zhang, who is learning about life in the spotlight. Jedrzejczyk’s team thinks her length and reach advantage will give her the edge. This could be the main event with the amount of interest, particularly with some of the vitriol between the fighters. A Westgate sportsbook official said the fight is drawing as much interest at the betting window as the main event, a rarity on a UFC pay-per-view. Most of the money is on Zhang, who opened at -135.
Hill’s pick: Zhang by decision
Fang’s pick: Zhang by third-round knockout
Beneil Dariush (16-4-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (10-1-1)
Line: Dariush -160
Storyline: This has the potential to be an exciting fight with how these two match up. Dariush is technically sound, but tends to unleash a torrent of offense early on and try to overwhelm opponents. Klose will welcome that. He is tough and has shown an ability to stay tight while absorbing an onslaught to wear down opponents and fire back with his offense. That might make Dariush utilize his jiujitsu early.
Hill’s pick: Klose by decision
Fang’s pick: Klose by decision
Neil Magny (21-8) vs. Li Jingliang (16-5)
Line: Li -175
Storyline: Magny’s once-busy fighting schedule has been interrupted by a lengthy saga with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over a tainted supplement. He will be fighting for the first time since November 2018. He is tall for the division, but excels in close spaces and particularly in the clinch. He will look to make this fight ugly because Li has a distinct power edge if they start exchanging shots in the open. Li has won three straight and seven of eight.
Hill’s pick: Magny by decision
Fang’s pick: Li by second-round submission
Alex Oliveira (19-7-1, 2 No Contests) vs. Max Griffin (15-6)
Line: Oliveira -145
Storyline: This is a fight between two veterans looking to remain relevant. Oliveira was on a great run before losing his last three fights. Griffin has lost three of four since bursting onto the scene with a spectacular performance in a win over Mike Perry. It’s possible this deteriorates quickly into a wild brawl. Oliveira has more power and is often so unorthodox that he’s difficult to figure out. Griffin will try to stay disciplined. If he does and doesn’t get caught by a wild shot, he should have a good chance to defeat Oliveira.
Hill’s pick: Griffin by decision
Fang’s pick: Griffin by second-round knockout