This biggest UFC card on paper this year has finally arrived. However, not without controversy of course. On Friday, at the morning weigh-ins, Yoel Romero missed Championship weight (185) by a pound. He was given two hours to cut the additional pound for the title fight to become official. When Romero stepped back on the scale, he weighed in at 185.2. lbs. A mere .2 over Championship weight. Apparently an hour into cutting the additional pound, the Athletic Commission stopped Romero from cutting weight. My guess is that Romero’s expressions during the weight cut concerned the Athletic Commission about his health. The real concern though should be on the UFC and adopting more weight classes before something fatal happens.
With the main event in limbo, Whittaker stepped up and indicated that he’s willing to fight Romero in a non-title five round fight. Certainly Whittaker has every right to not fight, especially with the unacceptable trend of fighters who missed weight are 7-1. Even worse, the last ten males to miss weight are 10-0.
Anyways, the rematch is on, just not for the title. UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker will remain Champion regardless of the outcome. Whittaker comes into this bout on an eight-fight winning steak, seven of which have come in the Middleweight division. Due to injuries and an illness, Whittaker has not been able to fight in nearly a year. As for Romero, if not for a failed weight cut on short notice against Luke Rockhold, he’d be the Interim Middleweight Champion. I guess that wouldn’t matter though, as he wouldn’t be able to unify the belts given he missed weight again. In what should be an awesome rematch, I can’t help feel the fact that it’s a non-title fight dampens the excitement.
Welp, to the Predictions!
UFC 225 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
185.2 lbs.: UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero – With Romero’s weight cut issue, this makes me question my prediction of Romero winning. However, I’ll stick with it.
In the first encounter between the two, Romero hurt Whittaker’s leg early, but never attacked it further. Romero who is a superior wrestler attempted only a few takedowns and Whittaker showed off that impressive takedown defense by thwarting them with relative ease. On the feet, despite hurt, Whittaker managed to outpoint Romero and capture the Interim Middleweight Championship (Later changed to the Undisputed Middleweight Champion).
In my opinion, the first fight, both men showed very little of their actual skills. With a bum leg, Whittaker couldn’t put up the striking output or use his footwork like usual. Romero for whatever reason showed hesitancy in striking and wrestling. So in this fight, I think we get the best of both. However, my opinion is that the best of Romero, especially with the wrestling can edge out Whittaker’s best. And even though Whittaker’s takedown defense is near immaculate, Romero can at the very least use the fear of a takedown to his advantage to land a fight ending blow. In fact, I’ll predict just that. So with that, I have Romero winning via KO.
170 lbs.: Colby Covington vs. Rafael dos Anjos for interim Welterweight title – As much as Covington talks, there’s no denying his skills. He’s a superior wrestling with excellent top control and has shown massive improvements in his striking and cardio. However, Dos Anjos is the epitome of a well rounded fighter. His weaknesses are hard to point out, especially now that he’s no longer cutting down and draining himself fighting at Lightweight. In what should be an excellent fight, I foresee Dos Anjos dictating this fight with his pace and ability to keep it upright. On the feet, Covington has looked better, but he was hit one too many times by a non-striker in Maia. If he doesn’t shore up his striking defense, he’s going to feel actual power.
So with that, my prediction is that Dos Anjos is going to soften Covington up for the first two rounds and then finish him off in round three via TKO. With the victory, Dos Anjos will become a multiple weight class Champion and the first Brazilian to accomplish this feat.
145 lbs.: Megan Anderson vs. Holly Holm – Anderson is a welcome addition to a thin as rails Women’s Featherweight division. However, she hasn’t fought in over a year and the competition she’s defeated in her four-fight win streak isn’t very good. Holm, while naturally a Bantamweight, has proved she can hang with the pound-for-pound queen and UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg. And while Anderson I believe has potential, she is still relatively green and is definitely not read for likes of Cyborg. If Anderson didn’t have a size advantage in this fight, I’d say she gets starched here, but because of that she might have her moments. However, I don’t see her winning this fight. So with that, I have Holm via decision.
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa – Honestly, this is a toss up. Either Arlovski keeps distance and is technical in his striking, attempting takedowns here and there in an effort to drag the fight into deep waters. Or, Tuivasa absolutely starches the iffy chin of Arlovski. I’ll take the later, but I won’t be surprised at the very least if Arlovski wins this. So with that, I have Tuivasa via KO.
170 lbs.: C.M. Punk vs. Mike Jackson – The motherload! Only kidding! With not much to research or break down here, I’m siding with the redemption of C.M. Punk. After getting embarrassed two years ago, he returns to his hometown to erase the horrors of his debut. Jackson on the other hand, while having more combat experience, is the same guy that got dropped and finished in 45 seconds by a non-striker Mickey Gall. Then he went to press row to do his duties as a journalist. Not exactly an indication he’s all in… Anyways, my prediction is that Punk takes down Jackson and ultimately submits him.
UFC 225 Prelims On FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Alistair Overeem – This is a hell of a Heavyweight bout with big implications for the winner. Blaydes, is coming off a massive win over Mark Hunt. After being wobbled early, Blaydes was able to take down Hunt with ease and control him on the ground for the majority of the fight. The victory marked three consecutive for Blaydes, which put him in line for this massive fight. As for Overeem, the former title challenger had a rough go in his last fight. He was brutally knocked out by Francis Ngannou. However, previous to that defeat he had knocked out Mark Hunt and defeat Fabricio Werdum.
In a tough fight to call, I’m siding with Overeem. In Blaydes last fight, he was nearly knocked out and resorted to his wrestling that ultimately saved him. That won’t work here, as Overeem features some of the very best takedown defense in mixed martial arts. On the feet, Overeem is a technical striker who’s got not only power in his hands but god-like power in his knees. The only knock on Overeem is his chin, which has failed him in his last nine defeats dating back to 2006. Blaydes certainly has power, but he’s more reserved in his approach. He’s not exactly a one hitter quitter. So with that, my prediction is that Overeem win this via TKO.
115 lbs.: Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha – This fight was supposed to happen twice in Invicta FC back in 2013. The two have bad blood and I’m curious as to why the UFC didn’t capitalize on pairing the two earlier. Nevertheless, they will duke it out tonight! As for my prediction, I got Gadelha. While Esparza will look to grind out the victory, I think she’ll have a tough time implementing her wrestling on a physically stronger Gadelha. On the feet, Gadelha’s power will be too much for Esparza to handle. So with that, my prediction is that Gadelha will batter Esparza on the feet and win this via TKO.
145 lbs.: Mirsad Bektic vs. Ricardo Lamas – I’m sold on Bektic being a future contender, but that Darren Elkins dramatic comeback victory over him was only two fights ago. Now, he’s fighting a perennial top five Featherweight in Ricardo Lamas. To me, this is a drastic jump up and I foresee a really close fight. In instances like this, I lean on experience. So with that, I have Lamas winning via split decision.
265 lbs.: Rashad Coulter vs. Chris De La Rocha – Considering De La Rocha hasn’t fought in over two years and was starched in both UFC fights before the layoff, I can’t see this going well for him. So with that, I have the very tough Coulter notching his first UFC win via knockout.
UFC 225 Prelims On Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith – Can you really trust Evans to win a fight at this point? I mean, if you can’t beat a 40 year old Dan Kelly (no offense), then what makes me believe a 29 year old who’s fought 41 times? So with that, I have Smith via TKO.
125 lbs.: Joseph Benavidez vs. Sergio Pettis – It’s been well over a year since Benavidez last stepped inside the octagon. The possibility of ring rust or his skills diminishing could be possible, but I doubt it. Until further notice, Benavidez is still the second best Flyweight ever… So with that, I have Benavidez via decision.
155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira – While Guida has looked better of late, this matchup just doesn’t bode well for him. Guida is a decent striker, who seeks to grind down opponents with takedowns and top control. Oliveira would encourage being taken down, as his guard is one of the best in mixed martial arts. If Guida opts to not even use his wrestling, I foresee a striking battle where he gets dropped in the clinch via knee to the body. From there, Oliveira will lock up a submission for the victory.
145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Mike Santiago – This could be an entertaining scrap to open the card, but I got Inge taking this one. Santiago has been taken down at will in his first two UFC fights. Considering Inge’s strength is his grappling, I believe he’ll do everything in his power to get this one to the mat where he’ll eventually submit Santiago.