UFC put on one of it’s biggest, if not the biggest show of the year. From Chicago, UFC 225 had more than a few stories ahead of the event. One of the biggest, but also least desirable of the many stories was the jeopardization of the main event. Yoel Romero’s chances of winning the Middleweight Championship hung in the balance as he had trouble cutting weight on Friday. He missed weight twice, by a margin. After that, it was quickly agreed that the fight would still happen, just not for the belt. Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero were still slated for a five round bout.
Another notable matchup was Colby Covington, who is a loudmouth was set to face off against Rafael Dos Anjos, who lets his actions speak for himself. Covington spewed trash talk leading up to the fight, often attacking Brazilians. He also that he will “Make UFC Great Again”, shadowing Donald Trump, who he has praised separately on many occasions as well.
Farther down on the main card was a second chance for two fighters. Former WWE star Phil Brooks, who is widely known as CM Punk lost his UFC debut back in September of 2016 to young fighter Mickey Gall. After landing no strikes, Punk tapped in the first round. Mike Jackson, the opponent of Punk, saw a similar career route, as he also lost to Mickey Gall, also via Submission in the first round. Both fighters had a zero in their career win column, and quite honestly really needed one of they wanted to keep their career in the UFC.
Other than those three fights, there were 10 other fights, all with very popular fighters. Up and down the card is talent. Almost any fight, whether early prelim, prelim, or main card, could easily headline their own card if given that opportunity. Without further wait, let’s look at the UFC 225 card. The very early 6:15PM EST Early Prelims started with Mike Santiago versus Dan Ige.
- Starting off the Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass, was Mike Santiago versus Dan Ige in the Featherweight Division. Very early in the first round, Ige went for a takedown. On the ground, Ige was landing tons of strikes, until the ref called it off.
- In the second bout of the evening, the ever energetic and crazy (and I mean that in an endearing way) Clay Guida versus Charles Olivera in the Lightweight division. Since Chicago is Guida’s hometown, the crowd was electric for him. For the first few minutes, Olivera and Guida were stand and bang fighting. Guida got slightly cut up, then he tried for a takedown. Guida tapped almost immediately to a Guillotine once Olivera was able to put it on. Surprisingly, instead of booing, the crowd just went silent.
- Continuing in the Early Prelims, Joseph Benavidez and Sergio Pettis compete in the Flyweight division. Benavidez is currently the #1 rank in the division, below the current champion, Demetrious Johnson. At the start of the fight the commentary team joked about how Bruce Buffer mispronounced Jiu-Jitsu, saying “Joe Jitsu.” In the first minute of the fight, Pettis tagged Benavidez many times with strikes. Benavidez got a takedown, which possibly saved him. Shortly after the two fighters went back to standing, and stayed that way for the rest of the first round. The second and third round was very even. The fight went to decision, with the judges favoring Sergio Pettis by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
- The final about in the early prelims was a Light Heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith and Rashad Evans. Rashad had the crowd behind him since he was fighting out of Chicago. Very early in the first round, Evans got KO’d with a hard right knee. The knee came while the two fighters were clinched up, with Smith up against the cage. The commentary team claimed that they saw the knee coming, and that Evans should have as well.
- Switching over to the FS1 Preliminary fights, Chris De La Rocha and Rashad Coulter face each other in the Heavyweight division. Coulter was doing well on strikes and combos, but then slipped and fell, allowing De La Rocha to do his ground game. De La Rocha almost got a submission move in, but then Coulter was able to get up. Coulter continued to absolutely clobber when they were standing. It became an absolute war near the end of round 1. De La Rocha got another takedown with 30 or so seconds left. The round ended on the ground. In the first round De La Rocha landed his own strikes, but was outnumbered compared to Coulter. They went to the ground early in the second round. De La Rocha was on top, but was so tired that he wasn’t landing strong enough strikes. De La Rocha eventually won the fight via strikes. The crowd, which was exploding during the first round was no booing De La Rocha.
- Going down quite a few weight classes, the next fight was Ricardo Lamas versus Mirsad Bektic in the Featherweight class. This fight was very close and composed. This was the most composed fight so far on the whole card. The fight went the distance, turning to the scorecards to decide the fighter’s fates. The judges scored the fight in favour of Mirsad Bektic by a Split Decision (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
- Claudia Gadelha faced Carla Esparza in the Strawweight Division next. Esparza was seeing more success standing than on the ground, in the first round. Gadelha almost finished the fight at the end of round 1 with a submission, but Esparza was saved by the bell. The majority of round 2 was spent on the ground. In the third round Esparza seemed more aggressive with the strikes while Gadelha was more less playing defense. With over two minutes to go, Gadelha got a takedown. For the first time on the ground, it seemed like Esparza was more dominant. The fight went the whole 15 minutes. When we went to decision, it was Claudia Gadelha that got the Split Decision win (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
- Finishing off the preliminary bouts, Curtis Blaydes faced off against Alistair Overeem. In the first round, there was barely any contact between the two fighters until Blaydes scored a takedown. Early in the third round Overeem got rocked by a combination of strikes. When taken to the ground, Overeem was able to stall the attack, but minutes later Blaydes was able to finish the fight with hard forearms. It was a very bloody, messy finish to the bout.
- Starting off the Main Card is the battle of two 0-1 records. Mike Jackson faces CM Punk in the Welterweight division. Punk saw a pretty successful first round, landing a takedown and showing control while standing. In the second round Punk was stopped by a hard right hand. They went to the ground, where Punk was hit many times and really started to bleed. Jackson won the second round by a long shot. When taken to the ground in the third round, Jackson got up, and the ref stood Punk up. At this point Punk was all over the place, and Jackson was very relaxed, not looking too aggressive. The fight went the distance, and when it ended, the crowd was booing. As many predicted, Mike Jackson won, but the actual score was (30-26, 30-26 & 30-26) Unanimously.
- Tai Tuivasa against Andrei Arlovski was the next fight. Tuivasa came out to “My Heart Will Go On”, from Titanic. From following the media and that has covered Tuivasa leading up to this fight, he seems like someone who has a playful side. Late in round 1, Tuivasa knocked Arlovski down with a punch. He let him get up, then continued the fight. The fight went all three rounds, with both fighters celebrating with their arms in the air before the fight even ended. Joe Rogan did not like that they celebrated prematurely, saying “Don’t do that.. Don’t do that!” Tai Tuivasa got the win via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). After the fight, Tuivasa did traditional Australian celebration called a “Shoey”, drinking a beer out of a fans shoe who was sitting nearby.
- In a fight similar to the one before, an up and comer in Meghan Anderson is facing Holly Holm. The commentary team was repeatedly talking about how Anderson was struggling. They described her as a “fish out of water” when Holm would mount her. The fight went all 15 minutes, with Holm holding down a Guillotine as the bout ended. The judges gave Holly Holm a Unanimous, and not even close win (30-27, 30-26 & 30-26).
- In what has now become the only title fight tonight, Colby Covington faces Rafael Dos Anjos for the Interim Welterweight Championship. Right off the bat in this fight Colby went for the takedown. In this fight Colby was showing a very different style from what we have seen from him in the past. In the third round there was a pause in the fight due to an accidental kick to RDA’s groin area. Covington kept the pressure on, almost always staying in the pocket, and grappling up against the cage. By the fourth round it became apparent that both of these guys are tired. Both guys were swinging away as the fight ended in the fifth round. The fight went to decision, where the judges gave Colby Covington a Unanimous win (49-46, 48-47 & 48-47). After the fight Colby called out Tyron Woodley, and said that he is taking his Interim belt to Donald Trump.
- Finally, in the main event of the evening, Robert Whittaker faces Yoel Romero in a non-title fight. The first round very slow, with Romero just barely dodging a Spinning Backfist at the very end of the round. Whittaker gave Romero a pat of the back after that. In the third round, Whittaker got dropped by a right hand from Romero. Romero chased him around the octagon, trying to finish the bout. Up against the cage, Romero was landing more strikes, but then Whittaker was able to answer with an elbow which shook Romero. Romero continued with the punches up against the cage, but then Whittaker landed a hard kick to the head. Somehow, both fighters made it to the end of round three. There was a pause in round three after Romero was hit in the groin. As far as I know the rule is that you get up to five minutes to recover, but it felt like Romero was given what, like 2 minutes? With around 20 seconds left in the fourth Romero wobbled. Romero was saved by the round ending. Early in round five, Whittaker got dropped by a right. Romero was on top of Whittaker, trying to finish him with the strikes. The fight went the full distance. We had to see what the judges thought of the contest, and who they would reward the win to. The judges came to the conclusion that Robert Whittaker won, by split decision (48-47, 48-47 & 48-47). This fight ups Whittakers win streak to nine in a row.
Another huge UFC event is now in the books. UFC’s next cornerstone event is Fight Week, which is from July 5th to 7th. The main event of the biggest of the three events, Miocic versus Cormier is accompanied with many other fights, including Max Holloway versus Brian Ortega in the Featherweight division. That weekend also sees the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 27. UFC has a relaxed schedule until then, as there is no weekend event next week. Instead, on Tuesday we get the Season 2 premier of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The next weekend event held by UFC is a Fight Night in Singapore on the 23rd, headlined by Donald Cerrone and Leon Edwards.