UFC 248 – Strange Occurrences

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UFC 248 is now one for the books. Going into the event we were treated to two title fights, the return of an undefeated hot prospect and a number of close match-ups throughout the card. The main card provided a ‘so-so’ level of potential, but one fight, in particular, lived right up to the hype. Despite arguably the best fight in women’s MMA history in the night’s co-main event, there were a number of strange occurrences throughout the night. We take a look into some of these.

UFC 248 – Strange Occurrences

Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s Injury

The night’s co-main event saw a phenomenal war between two of the best at strawweight. Champion Zhang Weili put her belt on the line against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. On the night, the fight provided an absolute show that saw both women attempt a combined 783 strikes. Weili retained the belt via razor close split decision. The strange occurrence in this fight, however, was the challenger’s injury.

The Injury

During the fight, Jedrzejczyk’s ability to absorb the champion’s strikes was to be desired. It didn’t come without massive consequences, however.

Jedrzejczyk suffered a huge hematoma on her forehead in one of the worst injuries the octagon has seen in many years. It certainly had an effect on the former champion, who said in her octagon interview that she could: ‘from the third round the [swelling] was bothering me and I felt it just getting more and more swollen’.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 07: Joanna Jedrzejczyk hangs on to Weili Zhang in a split decision loss during a strawweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena on March 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

This isn’t all that uncommon for Jedrzejczyk, as we know that she both marks easily as well as swells easily. At UFC 205 Joanna suffered another large hematoma on the side of her face, again affecting her in the fight.

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 12: Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland is awarded the belt by UFC President Dana White after her unanimous decision victory in their women’s strawweight championship bout against Karolina Kowalkiewicz of Poland during the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Don’t let the injury take anything away from what was easily a contender for fight of the year so far, however.

Dan Miragliotta’s Main Event Performance

The UFC 248 main event saw a highly anticipated middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. The referee for this bout was Dan Miragiliotta. Let’s not pretend, this was not an interesting or entertaining fight. Adesanya is a kickboxing phenom and is coming off a knockout win against Robert Whittaker. Romero holds scary knockout power and is extremely unpredictable. 

With very little (which is an understatement) engagement in the first round and not much in the second, Miragiliotta brought both men together at the beginning of the fourth round. Stating ‘Two rounds left, you’ve got to give the judges something to score, you’re getting paid for a championship fight, let’s see what you can do’.

On air, Joe Rogan described Miragliotta’s actions as ‘extremely odd’. Just 20 seconds into the fourth round, despite engagement between the two men, the referee implored them with shouts of ‘let’s go, let’s go’.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 07: (L-R) Opponents Israel Adesanya of Nigeria and Yoel Romero of Cuba face off prior to their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 248 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Not the Referee’s Place

Now, we all love a fight that has a lot of action as it tends to provide more entertainment. The fans were spoilt with the fight prior to this one. We also know that the referee can take a point off a fighter for hesitation. It isn’t the referee’s place to encourage these fighters to engage with each other, however.

These are two of the highest level MMA fighters, playing out a chess match in the octagon. The consequences for Adesanya, in particular, were scary. Go and watch Romero vs Luke Rockhold or Chris Weidman. The two knockouts that he scored against these two men arguably changed their careers and understandably Adesanya didn’t want to suffer that fate.

Miragiliotta is one of the most reliable, solid referee’s in the game, but let’s not get it twisted. His job in there is to officiate the fight, enforce the rules and protect the fighters. His job is not to encourage alternative game plans as a result of how he expected the fight to play out.

Sugar’s Performance

Now, before we get started, the strange occurrence here was not how good Sean O’Malley performed at UFC 248. We know his class, his knockout power and how much potential he has. At an impressive 10-0 before UFC 248, with seven finishes, O’Malley certainly has the hype and the skill to make it big in the UFC.

UFC 248 Performance

O’Malley’s opponent at UFC 248 was Jose Alberto Quinonez, a veteran of seven UFC bouts. One of the biggest questions was how O’Malley would perform after many injuries and a layoff of almost two years.

Sugar’s game is striking heavy and having had so much time out of the octagon, questions were asked – how quickly he could hit the ground running. It took hot prospect Nathaniel Wood two rounds to finish Quinonez in London last year. It took O’Malley just over two minutes. Falling seamlessly back into his fluid, hard striking style. Knocking his opponent down with a strong head kick, it proved just how much power Sugar has. It was arguably strange how easily and seamlessly O’Malley was able to get up to gear having had such a long layoff and is certainly a scary attribute for any future opponent. If that is how good he is after a near two year lay off, how good is he going to be when he fights more regularly?

One of the most exciting prospects in MMA today, Sean O’Malley set himself up for a big 2020 with his performance at UFC 248.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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