- UFC 225 is finally just around the corner on June 9th!
- A mouth-watering rematch between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero is the event headliner
- Colby Covington and Rafael Dos Anjos feature in the co-main event
Have no fear, UFC 225 is here!
After a flurry of utterly uninspiring cards, the UFC is finally giving fight fans something to get excited for. UFC 225 in Chicago on June 9th, pits Robert Whittaker against Yoel Romero for the second time. The first fight was simply amazing, and we should hold similar expectations for the sequel.
Also on the card is a grudge match between Colby Covington and Rafael Dos Anjos. Covington insulted the entire nation of Brazil and defeated one of their most beloved stars. Now he’s fighting one of Brazil’s fiercest fighters for the interim title.
Robert Whittaker (-240) vs Yoel Romero (+190)
It’s a rematch for the ages. Robert Whittaker (19-4) and Yoel Romero (13-2) first met last July, when the two middleweights fought for the interim title at UFC 213. Whittaker outworked Romero over five rounds and was awarded the victory. He was then expected to face then-champ Michael Bisping or the new champ, Georges St-Pierre, but instead the belt was vacated and Whittaker was elevated to the throne.
Whittaker was scheduled to defend his title against former champ Luke Rockhold earlier this year, but a serious staph infection forced him to pull out. Instead, Romero stepped in and finished Rockhold within three rounds. That was enough to earn the 41-year-old Cuban (yes, 41!) a shot at redemption.
The first fight was a close but clear win for Whittaker. Romero undeniably won the first two rounds, while Whittaker swept the final three. It’s hard to see the fight as anything other than a 48-47 win for the Aussie.
Romero obliterated Whittaker’s knee in the early moments of the first round and dominated the first ten minutes of the fight, but he started to fade as the fight wore on. A one-legged Whittaker pushed on and dominated the later rounds, dictating the pace of the fight and neutralizing every takedown Romero shot his way. Using his movement, he was able to avoid Romero’s devastating power and counter with some heavy shots of his own.
There have long been questions over Romero’s ability as a five-round fighter. The stocky 185-pounder is one of the most shredded fighters to grace the octagon and packs some of the most explosive power we’ve ever seen — but all that comes with a cost. Does the “Cuban Missile” have a range short of five rounds?
That was the first time we saw Romero in a championship fight, and he was clearly gassed by the end of it. Perhaps he over-exerted himself in the first two rounds and will pace himself more cautiously in the rematch.
Another issue Romero will have to consider is Whittaker’s movement. Even with a busted knee, Whittaker was able to outmaneuver his opponent. He kept his distance for the most part, intelligently picking his moments to engage. Once in, he would fire off some shots before dipping back out. He was acutely aware of Romero’s power and he didn’t take unnecessary risks.
After his performance in the first fight, Whittaker is rightly the favorite in this fight. But the line is a little too favorable on his behalf. Romero has the power to knock out his opponent at any moment of the fight, so there’s just too much value at +190 odds.
Pick: Yoel Romero (+190)
Colby Covington (-130) vs Rafael Dos Anjos (+100)
In the co-main event, former lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos (28-9) faces new kid on the block Colby Covington (13-1). The marketing for this fight is simple: Covington called the nation of Brazil a bunch of “filthy animals” after his last fight, and now he’s facing a Brazilian fighter in Dos Anjos. The story writes itself.
But putting all that aside, this is a compelling fight in its own right. Dos Anjos is a former lightweight champ currently on an unbeaten run at welterweight, and Covington is a rising star who recently posted a win over title contender Demian Maia.
RDA is a proven veteran on a quest to become a two-division champ; Covington is potentially the future of the division.
If we compare the fight records of both fighters, there’s no question that RDA is the more distinguished fighter. He’s beaten tougher opponents and has accomplished way more in the sport. Covington holds a victory over a 40-year-old Demian Maia, but there’s little else to justify giving him a title shot (interim title is still a title!). The truth is, “Chaos” Covington is where he is because of his ability to annoy and enrage MMA fans.
That’s not to say that Covington has no chance against Dos Anjos, but the prolific trash talker hasn’t truly been tested yet. We know he’s a good wrestler and we’ve seen him grind out decision victories, but he’s yet to show us anything special.
In order to showcase his grappling against RDA, Covington will have to walk through a flurry of leg kicks, elbows, and flying knees. And then, if he’s able to close the distance, he’ll have to reckon with dos Anjos’ stellar takedown defense. Covington is the bigger guy and will have the upper-hand if the fight goes to ground, but RDA’s jiu-jitsu is also nothing to scoff at.
Covington has a few ways to win this fight, but in my opinion he definitely shouldn’t be the favorite. The betting odds opened as a pick ’em fight, but the late money has poured in for Covington. Take advantage of that. Dos Anjos at evens (+100) is a steal!
Pick: Rafael Dos Anjos (+100)