UFC 225 - Chicago Breakdown & Predictions
When is UFC 225? Sunday 9th June, 2018 – 01:00 (UK)
Where is UFC 225? United Center, Chicago, Illinois
What channel is UFC 225 on? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC 225? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero
Robert Whittaker is as humble as they come but outclassing an Olympic wrestler and frightening knockout artist with a damaged medial ligament is a special feat. The two now meet again after their showdown at UFC 213 where Whittaker took home the spoils with an uber impressive decision victory as the underdog.
Whittaker has been out of action since that bout whereas Yoel Romero responded to the loss with a devastating knockout over perennial contender Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 to set up this fight for the middleweight championship.
Romero is looking for revenge as well as the strap but the humble Aussie has recovered and is prepared to let his performance do all the talking once again.
The Reaper put on a clinic on how to beat Romero and doing so after an oblique kick aggravated a knee injury makes you realise he has even more to give. His biggest threats in the first fight was Romero’s explosive power in his hands, his speed and Olympic level wrestling.
However, Whittaker’s defence was immaculate; he matched his speed and covered distance rapidly throughout the five rounds, he sprawled, defended the takedowns and sprung up from the bottom with relative ease and his key to victory was his cardio – he gave up the first two rounds but fought back and finished like a champion.
So, in this rematch Romero has to adapt and improve his stamina. Although fighting in burst attacks has earned him wins over every other beast in the division, he needs to approach this more cerebrally. His venomous knockout power will obviously still be a severe threat in the early rounds but if the fight goes on and The Soldier of God hasn’t adapted, you have to favour Whittaker.
Whittaker’s speed and movement will be crucial in stifling and interrupting the timing and explosive attacks of the Cuban. Romero is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world but The Reaper may just be his kryptonite and if he comes into this fight fully fit, he may just put on an even better performance. It will most likely be an early win for Romero or a late win for Whittaker.
Winner: Whittaker via KO/TKO
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric
Rafael Dos Anjos vs Colby Covington
Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington has truly lived up to his nickname over the past couple years but less for his performances and more for what comes out of his mouth. He has ruffled many feathers and offended many people - particularly the Brazilians. Leading the counter-attack for the country is Rafael dos Anjos, who is desperate to beat some respect into the man who is fire at the moment with five straight impressive wins.
As the current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has been out of action for nearly a year with an injured shoulder, this fight also has an interim title on the line fuelling the intensity of this bout.
Covington has earned his stellar record dominating the majority of his opponents, all based on an outstanding level of wrestling. The decorated collegiate wrestler will have an obvious game plan and considering the calibre of his opponent, it may be the only route to victory.
Dos Anjos is arguably better in every area of MMA apart from wrestling. He is a powerful striker with heavy hands and thunderous kicks which can take the legs out of any opponent and also has some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the division.
So, if he can defend the takedown the win is there but Covington rarely fails to get his opponent to the ground and will be encouraged by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s dismantling on Dos Anjos back in 2014. On the other hand, Dos Anjos will be encouraged by Maia damaging Covington on the feet in their fight.
Covington is likely to start trading with Dos Anjos but only to set up the takedown. The Brazilian will be wise to implement leg kicks to stifle Covington but it may be inevitable. When the fight does go to the floor though, his Jiu-Jitsu could help him defend the ground and pound and even wrap up a submission.
This fight can easily swing back and forth and will be decided by how long the fight stays on the feet/on the ground. This is likely to go into the championship rounds and cumulative damage could easily set up a finish for either man but their extreme cardio is likely to carry them until the bell. Dos Anjos just has the edge with more tools at his disposal.
Winner: Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision
Andrei Arlovski vs Tai Tuivasa
This is a titanic clash between a legend come gatekeeper and a former Rugby League player come heavyweight prospect. Andrei Arlovski has 43 professional fights to his name, going to war with a who’s who of former champions and beasts whereas Tai Tuivasa has had seven MMA fights – all of which he has won.
Tuivasa has reaped success with the nuclear power in his hands but is yet to face anyone like Arlovski. The Pitbull is one of the most experienced fighters on the entire roster and will be Bam Bam’s greatest test to see if he is a prospect or contender.
Although Arlovski has gone to a decision in his last three fights, this is very unlikely to go the distance. The Aussie will come out swinging and hunt the chin of the Belarussian and if he finds it, it is lights out and an eighth win.
As Tuivasa has never been past the first round, Arlovski will be wise to feel him out, conserve his energy and test the cardio of the slugger. That said, we all know the knockout power of Arlovski and he has proven he can trade shots with monstrous hitters with success.
However, the war-beaten veteran may have too many miles on the clock to survive a bomb from Bam Bam.
Winner: Tuivasa via KO/TKO
Holly Holm vs Megan Anderson
Megan Anderson finally makes her UFC debut which has been thoroughly anticipated mainly because she is one of two genuine featherweights in the UFC and Cris Cyborg’s only real threat in the division right now. She has been handed Holly Holm which is the biggest test of her credentials so far.
Anderson has not earned her place just because she is a natural 145 pounder but because she is one of the best. She was the Invicta champion and since losing her second fight against Cindy Dandois, she has won four in a row – all finishes via knockouts – with all of them earning her fight bonuses.
The division is in urgent need of somebody like her but she needs to get past one of the best strikers and tacticians in women’s MMA.
Anderson has the size, the reach and proven knockout power. However, although she has this advantage, Holm is not a good match-up for her. Holm is an incredibly illusive mover with a gas tank to keep it going for five rounds let alone three.
Holm’s striking abilities are also well known and she has the ability to negate the reach advantage and get her own punches and kicks off. That said, Anderson clearly has the ability to knock Holm out until the last minute.
However, despite the difference in form, Holm’s experience going five rounds with two of the best female strikers in Germaine de Randamie and Cris Cyborg will give her that crucial edge in executing a perfect game plan.
Winner: Holm via Decision
CM Punk vs Mike Jackson
The long-awaited return (well, for some) of Phil Brooks aka CM Punk is upon us at UFC 225. The WWE superstar makes his return 20 months after his less than spectacular debut at UFC 203. His status granted him his debut in the UFC but he was humbled by Mickey Gall who finished him in the first round with a rear-naked choke.
Injuries and doubts over a career in MMA have kept him out until now but he has another opportunity to fight on the big stage and in front of his home town – this time against somebody with exactly the same MMA experience – one fight and one loss against Gall which just also happened to be via a rear naked choke.
Mike Jackson’s debut fight was also in the UFC back in 2016 and he was even rumoured to be CM Punk’s first opponent so this is an extremely fitting match-up. However, Jackson does have professional experience in Boxing and Kickboxing and will surely be the heavy favourite.
It is difficult to predict how CM Punk will perform but training with Duke Roufus’ great team in Milwaukee, you know he will be as prepared as he possibly can be with an extra focus on his grappling skills. Jackson will look to show off his striking talents so it will be great to see these guys battle it out on the feet.
Although their stats are only based on one fight, they have significance as they were both against Gall and Jackson clearly put up more of a fight. So, it is going to be very interesting to see who has more fight on the night in a match-up that is appropriately more even.
Winner: Jackson via KO/TKO