Cuban middleweight challenger Yoel Romero will get his chance to solve the puzzle that is champion Israel Adesanya, tonight at UFC 248.
One fighter missed weight at the weigh-ins. Women’s strawwweight fighter Emily Whitmre was 1.5. pounds over the 116-pound limit, and will be fined 20 per cent. Her bout with Polyana Viana will proceed as a catchweight.
Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the card.
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DANAA BATGEREL (7-2-0) VS. GUIDO CANNETTI (8-4-0)
Andrews: Cannetti has been fighting in the UFC since 2014. His record is average, but he has the experience advantage in this matchup. Batagerel is tough and has not been finished but he will lose the decision.
Andrews Prediction: Guido Cannetti via UD
JAMALL EMMERS (13-4-0) VS. GIGA CHIKADZE (6-1-0)
Andrews: Both guys around 30 years old, trying to stick in the UFC. Yes, Chikadze has a shaky split-decision in his debut to welcome Emmers to the octagon with, but I like Emmers to shake off the jitters and upset Giga.
Andrews Prediction: Jamall Emmers via TKO
POLYANA VIANA (10-3-0) VS. EMILY WHITMIRE (4-2-0)
Andrews: Whitemire did not make weight. Viana needs a win badly, and is a finishing machine. I expect her to be aggressive and go for the win.
Andrews Prediction: Polyana Viana via submission
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GERALD MEERSCHAERT (30-12-0) VS. DERON WINN (6-1-0)
Andrews: Meerschaert need a win, but I like the smaller but stocky Winn here in this matchup. Get Gerald to the ground and use the grappling to grind out a win.
Andrews Prediction: Deron Winn via UD
SAPARBEK SAFAROV (9-2-0) VS. RODOLFO VIEIRA (6-0-0)
Andrews: Going with the Brazilian to get another tap. Safarov is dangerous on the feet, so as long as he can get it to the ground, advantage Vieira.
Andrews Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira via submission
AUSTIN HUBBARD (11-3-0) VS. MARK MADSEN (9-0-0)
Andrews: Hubbard is younger, but Madsen is more experienced and not just in the cage. Have to go with the Olympian to grind out the win.
Andrews Prediction: Mark Madsen via UD
SEAN O’MALLEY (10-0-0) VS. JOSE ALBERTO QUINONEZ (8-3-0)
Andrews: Can O’Malley return to form after the layoff? Quinonez is a solid fighter and if O’Malley is off his game, he can take advantage. But O’Malley should be ready to get the win.
Andrews Prediction: Sean O’Malley via UD
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
ALEX OLIVEIRA (19-8-1, 2NCs) VS. MAX GRIFFIN (15-7-0)
Andrews: Oliveira is not a gift for anyone, even if he has lost three in a row. He is a rough-and-tumble customer, yet I think Griffin can outsmart him and get the decision.
Andrews Prediction: Max Griffin via UD
NEIL MAGNY (21-7-0) VS. JINGLIANG LI (17-5-0)
Andrews: Fun Fact: Magny debuted during Ronda Rousey’s first title defence at UFC 157 in February 2013. Mangny is not a flashy guy but has good fundamentals and has the slight advantage. JingLiang needs to hurt Magny with kicks and strikes early and often, and I’m not sure he can do it.
Andrews Prediction: Neil Magny via UD
BENEIL DARIUSH (17-4-1) VS. DRAKKAR KLOSE (11-1-1)
Andrews: Klose has not scored a finish in the UFC in six fights. I like Dariush a lot and he is on fire as of late. I expect Dariush to survive some trouble early, and then score a submission late.
Andrews Prediction: Beneil Dariush via submission
ZHANG WEILI (20-1-0) VS. JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK (16-3-0)
Andrews: Forget the MMA math. Weili’s striking will be put to the test here with the previous standard in Joanna. But Rose showed her striking can be neutralized. Advantage Weili.
Andrews Prediction: Zhang Weili via UD
ISRAEL ADESANYA (18-0-0) VS. YOEL ROMERO (13-4-0)
Andrews: Romero is always dangerous with those unpredictable strikes and grappling, but if Adesanya can survive the early rounds and put something in Romero’s grill, he will be in position to wear down Romero and finish him late.
Andrews Prediction: Israel Adesanya via TKO