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Dana White: Yoel Romero looked terrible, is to blame for lackluster UFC 248 main event

LAS VEGAS – Many spectators at T-Mobile Arena weren’t happy with the UFC 248 main event between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Yoel Romero. UFC president Dana White was no different.

At the UFC 248 post-fight news conference after Saturday’s event, White was asked his thoughts on the main event. While there were two combatants in the middleweight title fight, the UFC boss blamed one in particular for the lackluster fight.

Here’s a hint: It wasn’t the champion.

“I do (think it was Romero’s fault),” White said. “He literally went out and stood in the middle of the … when the bell rang in the first round, just stood there with his hands up. You know what I mean? You’re going in and facing the world champion. This is your last shot at a championship. You shouldn’t even be here getting this title fight. It should be Paulo Costa. If he didn’t get hurt, you don’t even get this opportunity. You go in, and you do everything you can to win that fight. He literally did none of that.”

While White was critical of Romero (13-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC), he brushed off Adesanya’s contribution. The UFC president said Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) fights exciting when he has exciting opponents. As evidence, he pointed to Adesanya’s past performances and indicated the champion’s likely next defense against Costa will further prove his point.

“I believe Israel Adesanya fights to the level of his opponent,” White said. “The Anderson Silva fight was similar to that. Then you think about the (Kelvin) Gastelum fight. It was a war. Gastelum goes after him and tries to take his head off. (Robert) Whittaker is going after him trying to take his head off. That fight was great. You better believe Paulo Costa is going to go after him. That fight should be ridiculous.”

As for Romero’s future, White didn’t give any specifics. However, he wasn’t  eager to discuss the odds Romero, 42, could receive another title shot sometime down the line.

“A path back to the title after that performance?” White said. “You’re crazy even asking that question right now. He looked terrible tonight. He literally gave up an opportunity tonight. Maybe he comes back in his next fight and looks like Yoel Romero. But if he doesn’t, I wouldn’t expect him to fight another 10 years looking like that.”

Shortly after White took the podium, Romero took the stage. He was asked about White’s comments. His response indicated he did not understand the basis for such comments. He blamed Adesanya for the lackluster headlining bout.

“Where do you fight?” Romero said. “Don’t you fight in the middle of the ring? I was standing in the middle of the ring and he ran. What would you do? Every time he’d come after me, he’d just run. Every time he’d get near me, he’d run, and run, and run. Did you see the fight? Did you see that first hit I caught Israel with? Yeah, he didn’t want anything after that.”

UFC 248 took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

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