UFC 225 is finally here and it certainly isn’t without drama. From CM Punk versus Mike Jackson in a reverse “somebody’s 0 has to go” battle to Yoel Romero versus Robert Whittaker moving forward as a non-title bout after today’s weigh-in — the storylines are still being written all the way until these fighters make the walk.
So, how about this — let’s get bold. Let’s be real. Let’s take a look at all five main card fights without any of that proverbial Mickey Mouse bullsh*t. Let’s start with something we’ll never see on a UFC PPV again.
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson
Records: Both men are 0-1 as professional mixed martial artists.
Thoughts: A welterweight bout between a former WWE champion and a member of the MMA media. This is one of those heart versus head fights for me. Punk is part of the reason why I got back into professional wrestling a while back and he’s always someone who I’ll root for in life. But I learned a long time ago that betting with your heart doesn’t help anyone except for the house. And they are always going to come out on top regardless.
Punk’s body is beaten and battered from years and years of putting it on the line inside of the squared circle. If he was ever going to have any success in this particular sport he’s about a decade and a half late. But good on him for realizing what has become his new dream. This probably isn’t the right way to do it (an amateur career would’ve been a bit smarter to start) but it’s the most lucrative and it’s pretty cool. As much as folks are upset about him “taking” someone’s PPV spot, you have to remember that he’s also given guys like Mickey Gall and Mike Jackson a chance to live their dreams as well.
While all signs point to Jackson winning this fight (he has the speed and experience advantage) there are so many unknowns when it comes to Punk. Does he have power in his hands (we’ve never seen him land an actual punch). Can he land one of those vintage running knees if he can get Jackson near the corner? The funny thing is — Jackson is the only person Punk could even dream about beating on this roster. And Punk is the only person Jackson could even dream about defeating inside of the Octagon as well. So these two are virtually made for each other.
Prediction: I’ll be rooting for Punk to get it done but I can’t pick him and keep a straight face. Jackson gets it done via strikes early in the 2nd after a very proud Punk shows tremendous heart.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa
Records: Arlovski brings a 27-15 record (16-9 UFC) into the cage against the undefeated Tuivasa who currently sits at 7-0 (2-0) UFC.
Thoughts: Tuivasa, one of three Aussies fighting on this PPV, brings a fan friendly style into the cage against one of the all-time fan favorites in Arlovski. While you never know which Arlovski is going to show up when it comes to fight night, we know that all Tuivasa knows how to do is finish (all 7 in the first round to be exact) and he has some equally awesome post-fight antics. While a crafty veteran like Arlvoski can simply never be slept on, this fight reeks of the old guard putting over the new.
Prediction: Tuivasa continues to be Tuivasa. Expect “Bam Bam” to record another highlight reel first round finish.
Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson
Records: Holm brings an 11-4 record into the cage against a 8-2 Anderson.
Odds: UFC debutant Megan Anderson is the underdog at +145 while Holm is a moderate favorite at -175. There has been a lot of movement here in the opposite direction of what I anticipated. Holm started as a -250 favorite while Anderson was upwards of +200 not too long ago. Either the money is coming in heavy on Anderson or the oddsmakers are seeing something they like about the Aussie during fight week.
Thoughts: Holm has lost 4 of her last 5 fights with her lone win during that period coming against Bethe Correia. She’s taking on a fighter in Anderson who has broken the face of her last 4 opponents inside of the Invicta cage en route to TKO victories. Aside from Cyborg, Anderson is the only natural featherweight currently signed to the UFC. She has massive power in her hands and feet and she has the look of a superstar. So, why in the world is Holm still a favorite?
Let’s take a quick look at those 4 losses Holm has suffered since the Rousey KO.
First up is Miesha Tate. Holm was on her way to a decision victory over Tate before she was choked out by the UFC’s newest mom in the 5th and final round. Tate made a career out of late fight comebacks and this fight was no different. While Holm did lose the fight, it was by no means a terrible performance. Next up, Holm got out kickboxed and wrestled by a world-class fighter in Valentina Shevchenko. She lost fair and square once again. Her losing streak continued against Germaine de Randamie in a bout that was contested for the inaugural women’s featherweight strap. She was hit multiple times after the buzzer and had her clinch work broken up far too fast due to inexperienced referee work. If a point had been taken away from Randamie during this fight (as it should have been) there would’ve been a different outcome. Last but not least, Holm became the first fighter in nearly a decade to take Cris Cyborg to the distance. Again, a loss is a loss, but we all saw how well she fought against a certified ‘Lethal Weapon’ in Cyborg. So, while Holm losing 4 out of her last 5 looks terrible on paper, it doesn’t look nearly as bad when you dig a little deeper.
Simply put, Anderson hasn’t faced a fighter as dangerous as Holm. She’ll have her hands full when it comes to Holm’s natural athleticism and boxing but all she needs to do is land one of those nasty strikes, one of those nasty knees or one of those hellbows in the clinch to change the direction of this fight and earn herself a date with Cyborg.
Prediction: Like the odds, I was super high on Holm leading up to this fight. However, after rewatching some of Anderson’s work under the Invicta banner and looking at her mood during fight week, this is beginning to look like more of a pick em. That said, I’m taking Holm to win a razor-thin decision in what should be one of the most intriguing fights on a card filled with intrigue.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington
Records: Dos Anjos holds a record of 28-9 (17-7 UFC), while Covington is currently 13-1 (8-1 UFC).
Thoughts: The winner of this contest will be deemed interim welterweight champion which means they will be given the opportunity to unify the titles with current 170 lbs king Tyron Woodley sometime later this year.
One of the major storylines heading into this card has to do with Covington and his unsavory words in the build up to this fight. He’s taken on the Chael Sonnen heel role here, facing off against and talking tons of trash about his Brazilian opponents in consecutive fights. Except, unlike Chael, he has zero charisma and zero mic prowess. But he sure can fight.
Covington’s victory over Demian Maia in Brazil last October was super impressive — he did everything he needed to do in that fight to earn the spot that he currently finds himself in. But can do the same against a more well-rounded fighter in Dos Anjos? Time will only tell.
Prediction: Look for Dos Anjos to temporarily shut Dos Anjos’ mouth here with a late submission in a solid back and forth war.
Robert Whittaker (c) vs. Yoel Romero
Records: Whittaker is 19-4 (10-2 UFC). He brings an 8-fight win streak into the cage and holds a victory over Romero. Romero is 13-2 (9-1 UFC). These two men have a combined 20 career KO’s.
Thoughts: The middleweight title will no longer be on the line due to Romero weighing in heavy once again, however, the fight will go on as a non-title affair of the five round main event variety.
Whittaker needed to put on the performance of his life to defeat Romero the first time around and this time it will be no different. While the 41-year-old did just endure a brutal weight cut that caused him to miss a chance at UFC gold once again, expect him to be just fine in the early going here. Romero’s problem will be in the championship rounds — if these fight gets there.
Prediction: Despite today’s events, my pick is still Romero. It’s just unfortunate that a main event of this caliber will not be for the world title. Romero has no one to blame but himself.