How Adesanya’s parents battled ‘ringside nervousness’ in UFC victory against Romero
Femi Adesanya, who is the father of Nigeria-born New Zealand-based MMA fighter, Israel Adesanya, has revealed how his wife and other members of the family coped with what he described as ‘ringside nervousness’ during Sunday’s UFC 248 fight against Cuban ‘monster’, Yoel Romero in Las Vegas, United States.
Israel Adesanya retained his middleweight title by a unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) against Romero, who is one of the most feared fighters in UFC history.
Speaking with The Guardian from Las Vegas yesterday, the senior Adesanya narrated how the family members, who came all the way from New Zealand to support their son, were able to cope with some of the ‘hard punches.’
Nobody wants to fight Romero, but Adesanya took the bull by the horn on Sunday and succeeded in overpowering the imposing Cuban wrestler/salsa dancer. But the fight was not that easy for the Nigerian.
“Personally, I am used to fighters punching themselves inside the ring,” the senior Adesanya said in telephone chat with The Guardian yesterday.
“From the way Israel prepared for the fight, I knew he was going to win. There was no reason for me to be afraid. But when one of the punches from Romero landed on Israel’s head, my wife (Israel’s mother) became nervous.”
A total of seven punches were thrown at the beginning of the fight (four by Romeo, three by Adesanya) with Romero landing the harder shots, including a hard left hook.
Things picked up slightly in the second round when Adesanya came out with a front kick and was going for a right hand, but Romero stunned him with an overhand left. Romero was lulling Adesanya to sleep by implementing his style of not doing much of anything and then firing off a couple of shots.
Adesanya finally figured out the best strategy in the third round: Attack Romero’s right leg, to the point the leg swelled up like a giant softball by the end of the fight. It proved to be effective.
According to the senior Adesanya, Romero was afraid to come to Israel. “He (Romero) knew how dangerous Israel could be, and to avoid receiving punishment, he was only looking for a way to throw a big punch at him. Romero didn’t come for a fight. Even when that punch landed on Israel, I was not worried because Israel was looking well balanced and confident. I told my wife and the children not to panic. That was even before Israel changed his style, which eventually paid off. Israel is grateful to all his fans for their support from different parts of the world, and he has promised to always make them proud,” Femi Adesanya, a native of Odogbolu, Ogun State, stated.
The highlight of the fight saw Adesanya attacking Romero’s lead leg before throwing hard body kicks. Romero pretended all was well, weaving as if he was winning. But the spectators in the crowd had seen enough by then, while viewers of the pay-per-view telecast were seen leaving the arena halfway through the round.
In his post fight interview, Adesanya said: “It was a hard fight but I did what I had to do. I picked him apart. I did what I had to do to win that fight.”
With Romero now out of the way, Adesanya (19-0) can look forward to what is expected to be an all-action contest against No. 2-ranked Paulo Costa.
“This guy’s going to actually come forward and try to f— with me,” Adesanya said of Costa. “I’m going to f— this motherf—er up. I’ll see you soon, boy.”
Romero (13-5) has now lost four of his last five and is 0-3 in official title fights. He put the blame on Adesanya even though he was the one who failed to do much in the remaining 15 minutes.
“He’s running and running and running,” Romero said. “Like the people in Rome, like the gladiators. That’s what the people want to see here.
“People bought the pay-per-view to see a real fight — not this. You need to have respect for people. People paid for a pay-per-view, for what? For a fight.”
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