UFC 248 is nearly upon us. The event is topped by two title fights and will see a couple of recently crowned champions defending their thrones against some savvy veterans.
Overall, the card is decent but somewhat lacking in drawing power beyond the marquee bouts. So what should you be excited about this weekend?
Well, here at The Scrap we have you covered. Check out the top five reasons to watch UFC 248 below.
AN UNDEFEATED JIU-JITSU ACE
To list all of Rodolfo Vieira’s (6-0) grappling accomplishments would be a task in and of itself. Vieira is 100-9 in grappling and owns wins over the likes of former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr., Andre Galvao, AJ Agazarm, and many more.
The seven-time world jiu-jitsu champion has amassed a perfect 6-0 MMA record with five of those victories coming via submission and the other via TKO.
— LORD HONKY HUMUNGUS (@Mr_Honky) March 3, 2020
In the cage, Vieira is relentless in his quest to get his opponent to the ground. Once there, he immediately goes to work looking to land blows and set up a submission. If you’re a fan of top-notch grappling, don’t miss this one on the ESPN prelims.
THE OTHER OLYMPIAN
Main-eventer Yoel Romero isn’t the only competitor who has graced the podium at the Olympics on this card.
Wrestling since the age of six, Mark Madsen (9-0), competed at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 but was eliminated in the early rounds. He was gifted a repechage bout in 2012 and finished fifth. Madsen then took a couple of MMA fights on the Danish regional scene before deciding to give the wrestling thing another go.
At the 2016 Olympic games, Madsen captured the silver medal for Denmark. He then decided to turn his talents to mixed martial arts full time and has won seven fights since 2018.
Madsen is a fascinating addition to the UFC, but you can’t call him a prospect. At 35-years-old, when most fighters’ careers seem to be winding down, Madsen’s is just getting started. “The Olympian” does have an advantage over most aging fighters in that he hasn’t spent much time getting punched in the face. Of course, years of wrestling take a toll on the body so it’ll be interesting to see what Madsen can accomplish in MMA moving forward.
THE RETURN OF THE SUGAR SHOW
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley (10-0) captured the attention of fight fans with his flashy footwork when he debuted on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. As if his style in the Octagon wasn’t alluring enough, outside of the cage, the undefeated combatant’s affinity for marijuana, video games, and his outrageous fashion sense have made “Sugar” something of a cult figure.
Sean O’Malley vs David Nuzzo pic.twitter.com/tE7znOLaSK
— MMA Gone Wild 🅙 (@MMAgonewild) August 28, 2019
The UFC seemingly had all the makings of a star on their hands before disaster struck. Injuries and failed tests for Ostarine sidelined O’Malley for two years. This weekend he makes his return against Jose Alberto Quinonez in the featured ESPN prelim of UFC 248.
At only 25 years of age, O’Malley still has plenty of time to reach his potential, but there is no doubt that the layoff dampened the hype surrounding him a bit. Yet, as those of us who have watched the sport for any amount of time know, all it takes is a single standout performance to catapult one back into the spotlight.
TO RULE OVER THE STRAWWEIGHTS
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-3) was once a queen set firmly upon her throne. The former strawweight champion had defended her strap five times en route to amassing her perfect 14-0 record. In 2017, Jedrzejczyk was deposed by Rose Namajuanas via TKO in a huge upset.
Over the last couple of years, Jedrzejczyk would go 2-2, losing the rematch to Namajuanas and failing in a bid at the flyweight championship when she lost a decision to Valentina Shevchenko. After some shake-ups at 115-pounds, Jedrzejczyk now gets a chance to reclaim the title when she meets current champ, Zhang Weili (20-1).
Weili is currently on a 20-fight win streak and will be looking for her first title defense this weekend. It took Weili just 42 seconds to run through then-champ Jessica Andrade and become China’s first-ever UFC champion.
This one pits two former kickboxers against each other in what is sure to be a technical bout. As much as Weili likes to stand and work her powerful sidekicks, clinch, and knees, she’s also often showed a willingness to use her Sanda background to rip her opponents to the mat and look for ferocious ground and pound.
What Jedrzejczyk may lack in power, she makes up for as a volume striker who sets a very high pace and stays the course for 25 minutes. Jedrzejczyk’s sprawl and brawl tactics are unparalleled in the division and on paper, she makes for a captivating challenge for Weili.
FINESSE & FEROCITY
Our main event of UFC 248 will see one of the slickest strikers in sport attempting to keep his gold from a Herculean destroyer of men.
The defending champion, Israel Adesanya, captured the belt in a career-defining effort when he TKO’d Robert Whittaker in the second round at UFC 243. The first defense of his title was originally expected to be against a fellow undefeated fighter in Paulo Costa (13-0) but an injury forced Costa to the sidelines.
Enter Yoel Romero.
Romero is a strange candidate for a title shot since he is officially on a two-fight losing streak. You could argue “The Soldier of God” should’ve have won both of those fights and many have, as they were both tight contests. Regardless of his recent streak, Romero is a freak specimen who can delete opposition in a blink of an eye. 11 of Romero’s 13 victories have come via knockout as he’s laid waste to the likes of former UFC champions Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, and Luke Rockhold.
Yoel Romero nearly took Luke Rockhold’s head off two years ago today in the main event at UFC 221#UFC
— Jon Realejo (@BloodyCanvasJon) February 11, 2020
As of late, we have seen little of Romero’s Olympic-level wrestling. The 2000 silver medalist often instead opts to stand with his opponents and look for a fight-ending blow. It’ll be interesting to see what the gameplan is against a man as proficient on the feet as Adesanya.
The champion racked up a 75-5 kickboxing record before he fully transferred to the sport of MMA and continues to dazzle in the Octagon with attacks rarely seen. Thus far, Adesanya’s grappling has looked competent, but he has yet to face anyone with close to the credentials of Romero.