The UFC returns with a huge card called UFC 225 on June 9, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Aside from a stacked card, two championship belts will be on the line at UFC 225.
Robert Whittaker defends the UFC middleweight title against Yoel Romero in the main event while Colby Covington battles former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos for the interim UFC welterweight title in the co-main event. An interesting sidelight on the main card will be the second MMA fight of former WWE wrestler CM Punk. Punk will face Mike Jackson in a three-round welterweight showcase that will open the main card.
The event is loaded from top to bottom that even former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will only be fighting in the preliminary card. Reem will face Curtis Blaydes in the final preliminary bout on FS 1.
Check out the odds, our preview and pick for the fights scheduled for UFC 225:
Robert Whittaker will make the first defense of the UFC middleweight title against the man he won the interim belt from.
Whittaker won the interim UFC middleweight title with a unanimous decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 213. With the win, Whittaker became the first Australian and the first New Zealand born fighter to win a UFC title. In December 2017, the Reaper was promoted to full-time champion after Georges St. Pierre vacated the title.
Whittaker was set to defend the belt against Luke Rockhold last February but the champion pulled out after suffering a near-fatal staph infection in his stomach. Rockhold ended up fighting Yoel Romero at UFC 221. The former Cuban Olympian knocked out Rockhold in three rounds to set up a rematch with Whittaker.
Whittaker has a record of 19-4 with 9 knockouts and 5 submission wins. The Aussie has not lost since suffering his only knockout loss to Stephen Thompson at UFC 170 in 2014. The Reaper has won 8 fights in a row and has beaten the likes of Rafael Natal, Uriah Hall, Derek Brunson, Ronaldo Souza and Romero during that stretch.
Whittaker usually fights two or three times a year but this time around, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Smashes: welterweight tournament is coming off an extended 11-month layoff due to that serious staph infection. Whittaker’s last bout was his UFC 213 win over Romero.
Romero is a decorated freestyle wrestler. In 1999, he won the gold medal at the world championships. A year later, he won a silver medal for Cuba in the Olympics. This Cuban wrestler has an MMA record of 13-2 with 11 knockouts. Prior to losing to Robert Whittaker at UFC 213, Romero was a perfect 8-0 under the UFC banner.
The Soldier of God reclaimed the top ranking with a knockout of Luke Rockhold last February. Now he gets not just a second crack at the last man to beat him but another crack at a world title. Romero’s bout with Rockhold was for the interim belt but he missed weight and was ineligible to win the title.
Although three of his last five bouts have ended in a decision, Whittaker is an aggressive striker who can put his opponent to sleep with just a single punch. He may not be as offensively sound on the ground but he has enough wrestling background to hold his own against the best grapplers in the game.
The odds for this fight are pretty close because as we saw in the first bout, these two are well matched. Whittaker isn’t very effective when he’s on the canvass. But despite being taken down four times in the first bout, he managed to get back on his feet and do damage on Romero in the stand up where he’s dangerous.
With his wrestling background, Yoel Romero would rather choose to fight Whittaker on the ground rather than take his chances in a striking affair. Romero is most effective when he gets top position as he has an excellent ground and pound attack. The Cuban also has genuine knockout power. He may be 41 years old but his conditioning is supreme and he can go five rounds as we saw in their last bout.
Whittaker can’t get too confident because Romero possesses knockout power too. But more than Romero’s power, what concerns many is the ring rust that Robert Whittaker might have. He is coming off the longest layoff of his MMA career. But if that is not an issue in this fight, the champion should have his way just as he did in the first bout.
Whittaker was faster, stronger and smarter in the first bout. I can’t see this one ending differently. Romero is the number one contender in the division but hey, he’s fighting the champ. Styles make fights and in this fight, Whittaker’s speed, accuracy and power are going to be too much for Romero. Give me Robert Whittaker to win this bout and defend his title.
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos faces Colby Covington for the interim UFC welterweight championship at the co-main event of UFC 225.
This fight will have more mustard in it because these two will not only be fighting for an interim belt but for pride. It can be recalled that Covington made derogatory remarks against Brazil during his bout against Demian Maia last October. Covington’s remarks had the UFC fearing for his safety while in Brazil and that’s perhaps the reason why this fight is in Chicago.
Dos Anjos, whose record is 28-9 with 5 knockouts and 9 submissions, captured the UFC lightweight title with a unanimous decision win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 185. He defended the belt once, against Donald Cerrone, but lost it via knockout to Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 90. After suffering a second straight defeat at the hands of Tony Ferguson, Dos Anjos moved up to 170 pounds and has since been on a tear.
Dos Anjos has won three fights in a row since moving up to welterweight. RDA decision Tarec Saffiedine during his welterweight debut submitted Neil Magny at UFC 215 and put a one-sided beating on former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in his most recent bout at UFC on Fox 26.
Not to take anything away from him but Colby Covington talked his way to this title fight. Ranked 3rd in the UFC welterweight division, Covington has lost just once in 13 bouts and has 2 wins by knockout and 5 by submission. He hasn’t lost since getting submitted by Warley Alves at UFC 194.
Covington has won five bouts in a row and has defeated Dong Hyun Kim and Demian Maia in his last two bouts. He is a former All-American wrestler from Oregon State University and he has used his extensive wrestling background to win many of his UFC bouts.
This one’s a match-up between a seasoned veteran who is a balanced fighter and a young and up and coming wrestler. If you take a look at their fight resume, this one’s a no-contest really with Dos Anjos having faced a murderer’s row of opponents. Covington hasn’t fought top notch opposition except Maia and Kim.
That’s why if you take a look at the odds, it’s strange why this is almost a pick ‘em fight. But remember that Dos Anjos is only in his fourth welterweight fight while Covington has fought at welterweight since his debut in 2012. Being the naturally bigger man, Covington cannot be taken lightly.
If Dos Anjos keeps this fight on their feet, Covington’s size may not be much of a factor because he isn’t known as a knockout artist. But once this fight goes down to the canvass, Covington will be a heavy man on top of RDA. Covington has landed a total of 41 takedowns in the UFC. No doubt he wants this bout on the ground.
Dos Anjos is a well-rounded fighter so he won’t mind where this fight goes. But against a naturally bigger opponent, he wouldn’t want to take his chances on the canvass. Dos Anjos mixes his strikes well and has some power but I’m not sure if he can hurt a bigger man like Covington.
At even money, I’ll take my chances on the bigger man and the relentless wrestler. This is going to be a grinder of a fight and I’ll be surprised if we see this fight doesn’t go the distance. Dos Anjos will make this interesting but in the end, Covington’s superior wrestling and size are going to be the difference. We’re picking Colby Covington to beat Rafael Dos Anjos by.
CM Punk lives to fight another day as the former professional wrestling superstar will take on Mike Jackson in a three-round welterweight showcase bout at UFC 225.
CM Punk stunned the fight world when he traded his fame and fortune in the professional wrestling circuit to venture into the real world of fighting. But since signing with the UFC in 2015, CM Punk only has one bout to date. That fight was a one-sided defeat at the hands of fellow newcomer Mickey Gall at UFC 203.
Many thought that CM Punk would never fight again in the UFC but after a year, he will return for at least one more fight. Critics say that it is only his popularity that is keeping him on the roster. Despite his 0-1 record, CM Punk is in the UFC 225 poster and will be fighting in the main card whereas former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will be fighting on the prelims.
CM Punk has no fight resume at all. He never had fight sport experience before entering the UFC. What he was though was the most popular wrestler on the WWE universe. Punk only started to train MMA when he signed with the UFC. Because of that, his professional debut was a disaster.
CM Punk barely landed a significant strike on Mickey Gall. Gall took him down quickly to the canvass and choked him to submission. After his defeat, Punk continued to train with the famed Duke Roufus at the Roufusport MMA Academy. 19 months after his lone UFC fight, Punk hopes to finally get a win in the UFC.
This isn’t the first time that Mike Jackson wanted a fight with CM Punk. He was Mickey Gall’s opponent at the time when the UFC auditioned for CM Punk’s opponent. He lost out to Gall the first time out but he will finally get a chance to put his hands on the most controversial fighter in the UFC roster.
Jackson isn’t a world beater or a ranked contender. He was a photographer and videographer for Legacy FC before turning pro. Like CM Punk his record is 0-1 and he too has no fight experience. But he is labeled as a boxer and kickboxer and against CM Punk he is looked at as the better fighter.
Labels aside, there isn’t much difference between the two. Like CM Punk, Mike Jackson lost via a quick submission to Mickey Gall. Like CM Punk, he barely touched Mickey Gall. And yes, like CM Punk his record is 0-1. Betting-wise though, oddsmakers have installed Jackson as the favorite here.
Jackson is the better striker between the two and he has some pop in his punches. Against CM Punk, that may be a huge advantage for him because CM Punk is learning how to fight on the fly. The problem with him is that he has zero ground game and while that may be okay against a fellow novice, but CM Punk has had some jiu-jitsu training and in fact, has earned his blue belt already.
This is a fight to determine who belongs in the UFC and who doesn’t. CM Punk and Mike Jackson are two fighters who have limited experience and limited skills. And more than a fight for the rankings, this is just a fight, period. Jackson would love to fight on the stand up while CM Punk would like this fight to go down and dirty.
I’m not sure if CM Punk has takedown ability nor am I sure if Jackson has takedown defense. But this should be a fun fight, one that is interesting to bet on, because of the surprise factor. We don’t know who’s gotten better since their first fight or if either has even improved over that period. But these men will give their hearts out in this bout.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see a tactical fight. This is going to be a brawl. We’ve got two unknowns going at each other and honestly, there’s nothing much separating these two except the odds. When you’re faced with something strange like this, you’ve got to go with the plus money here. And don’t forget that we’re fighting in Chicago, CM Punk’s hometown. We’re picking CM Punk to beat Mike Jackson.
Former Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson will make her UFC debut against Holly Holm at UFC 225 in the first non-title women’s featherweight bout in the promotion.
Megan Anderson came to the UFC with fighting Cris Cyborg in mind. But she didn’t want to rush that fight and wanted to have a feel of the UFC first. Surprisingly, the UFC booked her a fight with former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm and that came as a surprise to Anderson. Regardless, she took it as an opportunity to showcase her skills against one of the best in the business.
Anderson was originally booked to face Cris Cyborg last year for the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight title. But she pulled out of that bout due to personal reasons. Whatever those reasons are, Anderson has taken a 17-month layoff and she will be making a bold step by taking on Holly Holm in her UFC debut.
The 28-year-old Australian has a record of 8-2 with 4 knockouts and 2 submission victories. She knocked out Charmaine Tweet at Invicta FC 21 to win the interim featherweight title. Anderson was later promoted to full champion but she decided to leave for the UFC.
Holly Holm shocked the world when she knocked out Ronda Rousey to win the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 193. But since that victory, Holm has only been 1-4. She lost the belt during her first defense against Miesha Tate. Then she suffered a surprise loss to Valentina Shevchenko in her next bout and another defeat to Germaine de Randamie in the inaugural UFC featherweight title bout. Most recently, she challenged and lost via unanimous decision to Cris Cyborg at UFC 219.
Holm is a former multiple-time world champion boxer and kickboxer before going to MMA. She is perhaps one of the best strikers in the women’s game, owing to her previous fighting careers. But Holm is on a terrible losing skid and this fight is a make or break about for her.
Not only is hold good with her hands but she uses her legs better than any other fighter on the women’s side. Holm’s leg kicks are an integral part of her attack, often setting up her hands in the process. Holm can hold her own against anybody in the striking game, we saw that against Cris Cyborg.
No wonder Holm is the favorite here. She is the more well-rounded striker and has tons of fight experience going for her. Holly is no stranger to a big fight and with her UFC career possibly on the line, expect her to bring her A-game against Megan Anderson.
Like Holm, striking is Megan Anderson’s game as she’s produced a KO in her last four bouts. Her last two knockouts came from kicks and punches so this should be an exciting striking affair. But given that she hasn’t fought the quality of opposition that Holly Holm has faced, that makes this fight interesting.
Holly Holm is faster on her feet and quicker with her hands despite the fact that she is turning 37 in a couple of months. That should give her the advantage she needs in the striking games. If Holm can take the best of Cris Cyborg and still stand up at the end of the fight, there is no reason why she can’t withstand Megan Anderson.
Holly Holm’s UFC career may be on the line in this fight. And you know she’s going to come out firing. Holm simply has too many weapons for Megan Anderson. When you look at her current form and the plus money on Anderson, Holm isn’t a tantalizing pick. But when this is all said and done, the experience is going to win it for her. We’re picking Holly Holm to beat Megan Anderson.
Heavyweight contenders Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes square off in a crucial bout that could potentially earn one of a shot at the world title.
#2 Overeem is looking to get a second chance at the UFC gold while the 4th ranked Blaydes is hoping to get his first taste of a championship bout. But before each of them gets his wish, they have to go through each other in this interesting heavyweight contest.
An added intrigue to this bout was the fact that it was removed from the main card and moved to the prelims in favor of the CM Punk vs Mike Jackson fight. Overeem had no problem with it though, considering the earlier the fight happens, the more people get to watch it in Europe, where he’s from. As for Blaydes, he said he didn’t care for as long as he gets paid with what he signed up for.
The 27-year-old Blaydes has a record of 9-1-0-1 with 7 wins by way of knockout. The only blemishes of his fight resume are his 2016 second round KO loss to Francis Ngannou and his 2017 decision win over Adam Milstead which was overturned to a no contest after Blaydes tested positive for marijuana.
Since his loss to Ngannou, Blaydes is undefeated in five fights. He is coming off his biggest career win in his most recent bout. Blaydes defeated former UFC heavyweight title challenger Mark Hunt via unanimous decision at UFC 221 last February. Blaydes recently announced that he signed a contract extension with the UFC and said he was happy with the new figures.
While Blaydes will be looking to prove his worth following a raise from his employers, Alistair Overeem will be looking to extend his decorated MMA career. A former Strikeforce, K-1 Grand Prix and DREAM heavyweight champion, the 38-year-old Overeem may have seen his best years behind him. The 38-year-old Dutch striker has a record of 43-16 with 19 knockouts and 19 wins by submission.
The Reem is just 2-2 in his last four bouts and is coming off a knockout loss to former title challenger Francis Ngannou at UFC 218. Prior to that though, Overeem racked up back to back wins over Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum. At UFC 203, he got his first UFC title shot but was annihilated by Stipe Miocic in less than one round. Overeem may be at the crossroads and he is looking for one big win that gives him one more crack at the title that has eluded his brilliant MMA career.
This is an interesting fight and you can make a case for either fighter really and that’s why the odds are pretty much even. Both have one-punch knockout power and both can fight very well on the ground. But when you talk about Curtis Blaydes, you’re not just talking about being a well-rounded fighter but you’re dealing with a relentless takedown game.
Blaydes’ 7.29 takedowns per 15 minutes average is just top notch. It’s really very rare that we see a heavyweight aggressively wanting to take the fight to the canvass. But Blaydes is a takedown machine and has a very good wrestling background to add to it. He can frustrate opponents by keeping them down.
Overeem is also adept on the ground and has a very excellent submission game. But what makes the Reem most dangerous is his devastating knockout power. Whether it’s with punches or kicks, Overeem is one of the best finishers in the game. However, that KO ability is both a gift and a curse as his last seven defeats have also come via knockout.
No question, Overeem can put Blaydes to sleep with a single strike. But Blaydes has stopped seven of nine opponents too and with Overeem’s chin suspect, you’ve got to believe that in a fierce exchange, it’s Overeem’s chin that gives up faster. We’ve seen that in recent years.
Curtis Blaydes isn’t going to take his chances. He’s going to take Overeem to the ground because he’d rather take chances with Reem’s submission game rather than his knockout power. At some point of the fight, these two are going to trade blows and a knockout is always a possibility. But the best fight for Blaydes would be to grind Overeem to the end. The younger fighter has better conditioning and is fighting at his hometown. It’s not going to be a walk in the park but Blaydes will walk out victorious. We’re picking Curtis Blaydes to beat Alistair Overeem.
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