This Saturday night in the UFC, the loudest narratives are centered around Israel Adesanya, and for good reason. The charismatic middleweight champion has arrested the attention of fight fans across the globe with his rapid rise, and at 18-0, is one of the best fighters on the planet today. A successful title defense at UFC 248 would surprise no one.
However, it would be ignorant to view his opponent, Yoel Romero, as a sacrifice to the increase stardom of the the "Stylebender." The ageless Romero has been fighting in MMA for a very long time, and has produced more than a few thunderous victories, frequently showcasing terrifying power on poor, unsuspecting opponents. These three fights in particular prove that you absolutely cannot afford to underestimate this Cuban-born beast.
3. The "Soldier of God" Destroys Clifford Starks in UFC Debut
If there is one thing that Adesanya needs to be wary of when facing Romero, it is the terrifying flying knees that he can dish out at any moment. Clifford Starks found that out the hard way back in 2013 during Romero's UFC debut. Just 90 seconds into Round 1, Romero took his big shot and flattened Starks before finishing the contest with brutal ground strikes. Starks didn't move on the ground for a while, and it was Romero's announcement to the middleweight division that he meant business.
2. Deadly Elbows Knock Lyoto Machida Out Cold at UFC 194
Lyoto Machida is a legendary fighter who will almost certainly find his way in to the UFC Hall of Fame. His knockout win over Vitor Belfort will live on long in the memories of fight fans. The Dragon, however, did not find any success when he fought Yoel back in 2015 at UFC 194. After a simple takedown and scramble found him on top, Romero exploded with short elbows that rendered Machida unconscious in a matter of seconds. It was a breathtaking display of explosive power on an icon of the sport, and a sharp reminder that there is no safe place inside the Octagon against this bad, bad man.
1. Leaving His Mark on Chris Weidman at UFC 205
Chris Weidman shocked the world when he defeated Anderson Silva to claim the UFC middleweight championship in 2013, and when he stepped in to face Yoel Romero three years later at UFC 205 after losing the belt, the All-American was still a formidable threat to earn another title shot. That all changed with one flying knee... and one of the most disgusting cuts ever witnessed during an MMA fight. Weidman hasn't been the same since, while Romero still possesses every bit of that same knockout ability. And Adesanya had better take notice.