It was one of the most highly-anticipated UFC fights of the year.

So when the first round ticked away with very little contact made between Kiwi Israel Adesanya and opponent Yoel Romero, fans were left wondering what to think.

Round one ended with just seven strikes before a chorus of boos from the crowd rung loud and Adesanya became increasingly frustrated by his opponent's strange tactics.

Romero didn't look like he wanted to do anything apart from stand still. And it didn't get much better.


The two men remained at a distance dancing around the Octagon before the referee gave them a word of warning at the start of the fourth round.

"You're getting paid for a championship fight," he said.

Israel Adesanya reacts after accidentally poking the eye of Yoel Romero. Photo / Getty
Israel Adesanya reacts after accidentally poking the eye of Yoel Romero. Photo / Getty

The unusual defence continued to play out throughout the fight but the longer the bout went on, Adesanya took control and used the distance to land nasty kick after kick.

Romero's leg began to get increasingly redder as the kicks kept landing from the champ.

UFC 248: Dana White Post-Fight Press Conference. Video / MMAFightingonSBN

In the end, Adesanya defended his title by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).

However, fans expressed frustration with the fight on social media, and MMA senior writer Shaheen Al-Shatti even reported fans were leaving the fight by the fourth round.

"Noticeable amount of people are heading for the exits in this arena right now. Midway through the fifth round," he posted.

Although Adesanya admitted he would've liked more of a scrap, the Kiwi champ defended his strategic approach.


"I did what I had to do and picked him apart," Adesanya said after the fight. "The legs don't lie. I f***ed his leg up. He was trying to do all this stuff to play it off, but I did what I had to do to win this fight.

"He plays the game in lulls. He'll try to get you into a false sense of security. My coaches Eugene (Bareman), Mike (Angove), Andrei (Paulet) and Twist (Tristram Apikitoa), they said you need 25 minutes of sharpness and focus. I was hoping to touch him a little more, but unfortunately, it's hard to engage with someone who doesn't want to dance."