Bobby Knuckles and the Soldier of God headline a stacked UFC 225 fight card in Chicago. Read the latest news on the events and our fight predictions here.
Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero
The main event of UFC 225 is a rematch between UFC Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. It will be Whittaker’s first title defence since being promoted to undisputed champion in December, and he will have his hands full with the ever dangerous Romero.
Yoel Romero Recent Fight Record
|Win||Luke Rockhold||KO (punches)||UFC 221||February 11, 2018|
|Loss||Robert Whittaker||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 213||July 8, 2017|
|Win||Chris Weidman||KO (flying knee and punches)||UFC 205||November 12, 2016|
|Win||Ronaldo Souza||Decision (split)||UFC 194||December 12, 2015|
|Win||Lyoto Machida||KO (elbows)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Romero||June 27, 2015|
Romero has a stellar 9-1 record in the UFC, and the first matchup against Whittaker is his only loss in nearly five years. Last time out he pulled off an unexpected victory over Luke Rockhold in the absence of the man they call Bobby Knuckles.
His relentless pressure gave Whittaker some substantial trouble in the early stages of their first fight, but the Australian was able to stay calm in the face of Romero’s onslaughts and came away with a narrow decision victory.
Romero needs to bring that same pressure to Whittaker, but needs to pick his shots a lot smarter this time around. By doing this, the Cuban will be able to better conserve his energy for the later parts of the fight, where he has previously proven to be able to finish fights (Romero has six third-round TKO victories in the UFC).
Robert Whittaker Recent Fight Record
|Win||Yoel Romero||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 213||July 8, 2017|
|Win||Ronaldo Souza||TKO (head kick and punches)||UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis||April 15, 2017|
|Win||Derek Brunson||TKO (head kick and punches)||UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Brunson||November 27, 2016|
|Win||Rafael Natal||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 197||April 23, 2016|
|Win||Uriah Hall||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 193||November 15, 2015|
In order for Whittaker to successfully defend his belt, he needs to fight aggressively, but conservatively against the former Olympic judoka. Whittaker was able to beat Romero in the first match by wearing him down with accurate strikes from the outside, but was taken down or held against the cage by Romero when he overcommitted on his shots.
As a result, Whittaker should throw constant, diverse strikes from the outside in order to keep Romero at bay and stop him from being able to hit Whittaker with a counter punch or get a takedown.
Whittaker vs. Romero Prediction
The first fight was close, and this one will be as well. Both fighters will fight conservatively as Whittaker will aim to stay away from Romero’s take-downs and knockout power, while Romero will stay away from the Australian’s effective strikes. We have Whittaker via close decision once again, but are certainly not counting Romero out.
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington
UFC 225 will be co-headlined by an interim Welterweight title match between Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington. It’s a chance for Covington to further back up his brash talk and assert himself as a world class fighter while for Dos Anjos, it’s a huge opportunity to be one of only a few fighters in history to have held UFC titles in two different weight classes.
While Covington’s striking has improved during his time with the UFC, it is light years behind the elite striking possessed by Dos Anjos. Because of that, the Brazilian needs to keep the fight on the feet and use his speed, movement and diverse arsenal to chop Covington down.
By constantly being on the attack, Dos Anjos will also ensure that Covington will never have to chance to implement his gameplan or attempt to wrestle the former UFC Lightweight champion.
A former decorated NCAA Division 1 wrestler, Covington’s best work has been done by using his top level wrestling and grappling skills. Although Dos Anjos also has a great grappling game, he has previously succumbed to elite wrestlers like Khabib Nurmagomedov, so a fellow elite wrestler like Covington may have some success by implement a similar approach against the Brazilian.
Dos Anjos vs. Covington Prediction
A hard one to predict. Both fighters have been on fire lately with each of them having a huge amount of momentum behind them coming into UFC 225. Dos Anjos is the better-rounded fighter though, and that will be why he will edge Covington and become the interim UFC Welterweight champion. Dos Anjos via decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa
One of the main card fights of UFC 225 sees UFC veteran Andrei Arlovski take on undefeated up-and- comer Tai Tuivasa. The fight is an opportunity for Arlovski to extend his win streak to three and a huge chance for Tuivasa to truly establish himself as one of the best heavyweight fighters of the new generation.
Arlovski is coming off a two-fight win streak against Junior Albini and Stefan Struve – opponents who the Belerussian beat by fighting extremely strategically and to his strengths. He will need to fight tactfully against Tuivasa if he stands any chance of beating the young Australian fighter.
Tuivasa has a professional MMA record of 7-0 (2-0 UFC) with all of those wins coming via way of first round TKO/KO. Because of this, it is crucial that Arlovski fights on the outside and fights in a way that wears Tuivasa down and causes the fight to go past the first round, where the Australian may tire out.
Tuivasa’s game plan is a much simpler one – get on the inside and find Arlovski’s chin with one of those bombs otherwise known as his punches. The 6’2, 264 pound Tuivasa has quickly become a fan favourite because of his hard shots and his ability to finish fights in a flash, and he can do just that against Arlovski, who has 10 TKO/KO losses on his record.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa Prediction
Despite his age and mixed record, Arlovski remains a threat to most heavyweight fighters. However, his suspect chin and preference for striking makes him a perfect opponent for the hard hitting Tuivasa, whose power will keep him undefeated. Tuivasa via KO in round one.
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson
Controversially, but unsurprisingly, a bout between former pro wrestling superstar CM Punk (whose real name is Phil Brooks) and 1-fight veteran Mike Jackson has been made a main card fight on UFC 225.
The fight is a second chance for Punk to parlay his WWE fame into MMA success while for Jackson, it’s an opportunity to get a win on what looks to be one of the biggest UFC cards of 2018.
Both fighters have minimal in-ring MMA experience, so it’s not easy to predict the approach and even the strengths they will bring into the fight. Punk did not look great in his only MMA fight, which came against Mickey Gall back in September 2016. He was stiff on his feet and a fish out of water on the ground, and if he not improved since then, it will be a short night for Punk.
Jackson’s only MMA fight was also against Gall, and he also did not look good, having lost in just 45 seconds against the New Jersey native. He was stiff on his feet and has his chin far up in the air, which made it easy for Gall to knock him down and submit him.
He cannot leave himself as open against CM Punk as he may suffer a similar fate and lose the fight early on.
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson Prediction
We’re fairly confident that this will not go to the judges, but not as confident as to who will get the win. We’ll say Jackson via TKO, but don’t be surprised if Punk notches his first pro MMA win in this fight.
Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes
The prelims of the stacked UFC 225 card will be headlined by a heavyweight matchup between Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes.
Blaydes will be looking to assert himself as a top ten Heavyweight in the UFC while a win for Overeem will show that he is still a top fighter in spite of his advancing age.
The best approach for Overeem to take in this fight is to fight from distance and attack Blaydes with well-time shots and combinations. Such an approach worked well against other hard-hitting heavyweights like Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos, who succumbed to the Dutchman’s powerful and technical shots from the outside.
Given Blaydes’ size and wrestling prowess, Overeem will be better served wearing him down with body shots and punches and opening up more as the fight progresses.
Blaydes’ best work has come when he is fighting on the ground, and he needs to do the same in this fight if he is to beat Overeem. It would be easier said than done, however, given Overeem’s solid takedown defence as well as his underrated submission said.
That said, however, Blaydes has been effective in taking almost all of his opponents to the ground, including Mark Hunt and Oleksiy Oliynik. As a result, he should have the confidence to try and take Overeem to the ground, especially given that the former title contender has lost via ground and pound to accomplished wrestlers like Stipe Miocic.
Overeem vs. Blaydes Prediction
Overeem may deliver a devastating strike or two, but ultimately Blaydes will reign supreme and establish himself as a top UFC Heavyweight. Blaydes via TKO.
UFC 225 Full Fight Card
Dana threw in a few last minute shocks to shuffle the order of fights and like us you may have been surprised to hear that UFC veteran Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes were demoted to the gallows. This match-up along with the other preliminary bouts are featured in the full fight card below.
|Robert Whittaker (c)||vs.||Yoel Romero||Middleweight|
|Rafael dos Anjos||vs.||Colby Covington||Welterweight|
|Holly Holm||vs.||Megan Anderson||Women’s Featherweight|
|Andrei Arlovski||vs.||Tai Tuivasa||Heavyweight|
|CM Punk||vs.||Mike Jackson||Welterweight|
|Preliminary card (Fox Sports 1)|
|Alistair Overeem||vs.||Curtis Blaydes||Heavyweight|
|Cláudia Gadelha||vs.||Carla Esparza||Women’s Strawweight|
|Ricardo Lamas||vs.||Mirsad Bektić||Featherweight|
|Rashad Coulter||vs.||Chris de la Rocha||Heavyweight|
|Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass)|
|Rashad Evans||vs.||Anthony Smith||Light Heavyweight|
|Joseph Benavidez||vs.||Sergio Pettis||Flyweight|
|Clay Guida||vs.||Bobby Green||Lightweight|
|Mike Santiago||vs.||Dan Ige||Featherweight|