Israel Adesanya is taking his talents to the desert.
The Kiwi UFC middleweight champion has confirmed his long-rumored bout against Cuban Yoel Romero. UFC boss Dana White told ESPN's Brett Okamoto the fight is in place and will headline UFC 248 in Las Vegas in early March.
The fight will be Adesanya's first official defence after prying the middleweight gold from Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in Melbourne in October.
Romero, known to be one of the destroyers of the division, looked to be his likely opponent after Brazilian Paulo Costa went down with injury.
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While there have been reports Costa could make a remarkable return and replace Romero in the fight, for now, the Kiwi champion will focus on Romero.
Speaking to the Herald last week, Adesanya's coach Eugene Bareman confirmed the undefeated middleweight was back in training camp preparing to fight Romero, despite the fight not being confirmed.
"We're in training camp for that fight. That's how determined we are to, under the right circumstances, make that fight happen," he said.
It won't be the only middleweight bout in the card, with a potential No1 contender's fight also set to be booked. American Jared Cannonier was booked to fight former champion Whittaker on the card, but Whittaker withdrew from the bout to address personal issues. Whittaker's withdrawal was not injury related, sources told the Herald.
Adesanya's will be the second title defence on the card, with women's strawweight champion Weili Zheng welcoming a challenge from Joanna Jedrzejczyk.