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UFC 225: Whittaker vs Romero 2

Who wins and how?   

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At the risk of jinxing the card, like I usually do, I wanted to get this thread up early because this card really deserves it. Plus there's the little addition of CM Punk's second MMA fight that will probably generate more discussion than the norm. So here goes. 

Saturday 9th June is the date. Chicago, Illinois is the place. It's UFC 225. 

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PPV MAIN CARD
Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero - Middleweight Title

Rafael Dos Anjos vs Colby Covington - Interim Welterweight Title

Holly Holm vs Megan Anderson  

Andrei Arlovski vs Tai Tuivasa 

CM Punk vs Mike Jackson

 

FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS
Alistair Overeem vs Curtis Blaydes

Claudia Gadelha vs Carla Esparza

Ricardo Lamas vs Mirsad Bektic

Rashad Coulter vs Chris De La Rocha  

 

FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Rashad Evans vs Anthony Smith

Joseph Benavidez vs Sergio Pettis

Clay Guida vs Bobby Green 

Mike Santiago vs Dan Ige

 

OK, as usual that bout order mightn't be spot on. It's only the way it's listed on Wikipedia so chances are it isn't right. I'll update it when somewhere more reliable confirms the show's schedule. 

 

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Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero 2 for the middleweight title tops this monster of a card. Should be a hell of a fight and a very interesting rematch. 

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July 8th 2017 at UFC 213 in Vegas is when and where they first locked horns. They went the distance in a gruelling 5 round back and forth fight. It was for the interim title and the winner was supposed to face then champion Michael Bisping to unify the belts at a later date. Whittaker took the decision 48-47 across the board. Just one round in it. It was a good fight. Both had their moments but, even as a massive Romero fan, I felt the right man won. 

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Whittaker was now interim middleweight champ and set to face Bisping for all the gold. But it wasn't to be. Whittaker had a knee injury going into the fight with Yoel, and it was aggravated further during the fight. Bisping was instead booked in a huge fight against Georges St Pierre at Madison Square Garden in November. GSP beat Bisping and won the title. So a GSP vs Whittaker unification was next. But it wasn't. A timetable for GSP's return was up in the air so he decided to vacate the title. Whittaker's interim title would end up being promoted to official undisputed championship status. And Whittaker's first title defence was booked. 

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February's UFC 221 PPV would be a homecoming for Whittaker as he was all set to defend his title and territory in Perth, Australia against former champ and smug cheeseball twat Luke Rockhold. But the middleweight mess continued. Whittaker had to pull out injured. The UFC scrambled for a replacement. 

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The man answered. Yoel was back in the game. 40 years old and a freakish combination of world class amateur wrestling, explosive power and unpredictability. Yoel stepped in against Rockhold on about a month's notice. Yoel ended up missing weight so wasn't eligible to win the title if he won the fight. 

He knocked Rockhold out anyway. 

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Despite the unprofessionalism of him missing weight, after KOing Rockhold the way he did, it was clear Yoel Romero was the top contender to challenge Whittaker. So the rematch was set. 

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This is going to be tremendous. I really liked the first fight but I've got a feeling this one is going to be even better. Whittaker's going to be coming back with a point to prove. He's on a 8 fight winning streak, which isn't all that common in the shark tank 185 division has become. But he's been gone nearly a year and has kind of been forgotten. He's really upped his game over the last couple of years. He's gone from looking good against midcard guys to looking amazing against top contenders. His wins over Derek Brunson and Jacare Souza were hugely impressive. To top that off with his win and performance against Romero the first time, he's a killer. Yoel's never going to be easy to deal with though. He's fucking lethal. You switch off for a second against Yoel Romero and he'll switch you off. That's been kind of the theme of a lot of his fights. He's so laid back and seems to lull opponents into getting complacent. Then he wipes them the fuck out. It happened to Rockhold, it happened to Chris Weidman, it happened to Tim Kennedy. All in the third round. These are good fighters. It's no coincidence or fluke when it keeps happening. They got comfortable, then they got unconscious.

Love this rematch. If Whittaker wins again, he's beat Yoel Romero twice in a row in consecutive fights. That and the win over Jacare would solidify him as the legit best middleweight on the planet. If Romero wins then we're 1-1 and a rubber match down the line would be grand as well. 

 

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Rafael Dos Anjos vs Colby Covington for ANOTHER interim title is co-main. I hope RDA fucking smashes this helmet. Dos Anjos is quality. One of the best in the game all-round. Dangerous striking, phenomenal ground game, incredible conditioning and pace and timing, he's experienced, fights smart, he's durable. He's got everything you could want in a fighter. And he's looked fantastic since going up to welterweight. He's 3-0 at welterweight now with wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and Robbie Lawler. He was one of the best lightweights ever, IMO, and he's not far off winning a second division's title at 170. Love RDA. Been a fan since he was jerking curtains and it's been great to watch his climb.

Covington on the other hand, I can't stand. If the term 'X-Pac heat' ever fit a MMA fighter it's this prick. Don't get me wrong he's got undeniable skills. He's 13-1 overall in his career, 8-1 in the UFC. And he's mostly dominated his fights. But he's boring as fuck to watch. Just dull beyond belief. He tries to make up for that by being the worst kind of troll outside the cage. Calling Brazil 'a dump' and Brazilians 'animals', calling Mike Perry's girlfriend names on twitter. Just desperate attempts to be relevant. I get what he's trying to do, he's just terrible at it. And in the end he's still boring as shit in the cage. His wrestling is excellent, fair play. But he doesn't seem much cop at anything else. This is a guy who was getting outstruck by a 40 year old gassed and exhausted Demian Maia in his last fight. The best thing Covington has ever done in the UFC was getting a boomerang lobbed off his bonce by Werdum. I hope Dos Anjos crushes him so bad he just disappears. 

  

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A stacked PPV without a heavyweight slugfest wouldn't be complete, would it? Alistair Overeem vs Curtis Blaydes is an intriguing one. Overeem's kind of in that elder statesman role in the division these days. It's weird because he was the young lion in Pride when most of us started watching. He's 37 now, this will be his 61st fight (and that's just MMA, he's had even more if you count his kickboxing career) and he's been everywhere and seen it all. From UFC to Pride to K-1 to Strikeforce. Overall, he's the most experienced heavyweight fighter in the sport if you look at the amount of fights he's had, the variation and level of opposition and all the different places he's fought and different rule sets he's fought under.

In Curtis Blaydes he's fighting a man 10 years his junior. Blaydes is promising. He's 6'4" with a 82in reach, he moves well for his size, has a strong wrestling background. He's 11-1 with the only loss being to Francis Ngannou but he went 2 full rounds with Ngannou and was pulled out by the doctor. He took a beating but he managed to stay conscious against Ngannou's firepower, which is a feat in itself. He's tough. Fights smart as well, as he showed in his win over Mark Hunt last time out, his biggest win to date. In a division that isn't exactly heaving with new blood, Blaydes is someone to keep an eye on.

This is going to be a harder test for Blaydes than Hunt was though, I reckon. I'm a huge Hunt fan but he's much more one-note than Overeem. You know exactly what to expect when you sign up to fight Mark Hunt. Still no picnic fighting him but you know what you're getting and the blueprint to beat him is wrestling. Overeem might be trickier. While he's not as durable as Hunt, he's going to be harder to take down. The x-factor could be that Overeem is coming off that devastating knockout loss against Ngannou. Easily the cleanest KO and worst KO of Overeem's career. 

 

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Andrei Arlovski vs Tai Tuivasa is ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH*** on this one for me. Like Overeem vs Blaydes, it's very much a case of old school heavyweight vs new school heavyweight. This is the one though for me. I like Overeem vs Blaydes but there's something about this pairing that I love. Arlovski's coming off two consecutive wins, his best run since his 4 fight streak back in 2014/15. He's had more ups and downs than a yo-yo but he's still here and scraping wins together. Made his MMA debut in 1999. Tuivasa was 6 years old when Arlovski had his first MMA fight! Arlovski is a true MMA OG. This will be his 44th fight. It's Tuivasa's 8th.

I'm not sure if Tuivasa is ready for this just yet but fuck it. The UFC heavyweight division is sink or swim. If Tuivasa loses, he's only 25, he's got time on his side. If he wins it's huge for him but it's going to mean he gets an even tougher fight next. It feels like they're having him run when he's still mastering walking but we'll see. I like Tuivasa a lot though. He's looked great so far. 7-0, 7 knockouts. His flying knee KO of Rashad Coulter in his UFC debut was vicious and the savagery he put on Cyril Asker in his last fight in Perth was almost disturbing. Had to be the worst 2 minutes of Asker's life. Tuivasa proper fucked him up. He's also got a 14-2 kickboxing record and had some pro boxing fights (5-2 record there). Most likely this plays out on the feet. You'd fancy Tuivasa to land at some point and I don't think Arlovski's chin will hold up to it, but the gulf in experience here is significant and big Andrei isn't exactly pillow-fisted himself, and he's still fairly quick for a heavy. Really looking forward to it. Only shit thing is that one of them has to lose. 

 

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CM Punk vs Mike Jackson then. I don't even know what to make of this anymore. I know exactly why it's here and why they've booked it. It just doesn't do much for me. Punk's first fight at least had that novelty factor going for it. I guess it's still there for some who want to see if he's improved since. But I'm not really feeling it. And even if he wins, Mike Jackson is such a nobody that we still won't really know if Punk's improved or if it's more because Jackson is complete shite. They're both 0-1, both losing their MMA debuts to the same man, Mickey Gall. It's a inoffensive novelty fight to kick off the PPV. 

 

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What's this? An actual woman's featherweight fight not involving Cyborg or a title? Are they actually trying to build contenders here? Holly Holm vs Megan Anderson should be good. Seemed like we've been on about Anderson's debut forever and at times it's felt like it was never going to happen. She was meant to fight Cyborg nearly a year ago now. She's Australian, 8-2 record. She's avenged one of the losses already and is currently on a 4 fight win streak, all TKO stoppages. She's pretty good from what I've seen but she could so with a bit more cage time, IMO, so I'm glad they're not just chucking her straight into the Cyborg meat grinder right off the bat. A fight with Holm is still a massive step up and a hard UFC debut fight but I like the matchup better and it should tell us a lot about where Anderson stands. Especially as Holm just went 5 rounds with Cyborg in December. 

 

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Ricardo Lamas vs Mirsad Bektic is a fight I could easily see stealing the show. Even on a card as loaded as this. Lamas can be hit and miss though. One fight he'll look like a serious problem for the whole division, the next fight he'll look off. Take his last 2 fights for example. He absolutely dismantled Jason Knight last July and looked like a beast doing it. Everything looked on point. His next fight in December he got one punch KO'd by Josh Emmett, who's a solid fighter but wasn't known as a KO artist previously. He'll have to be on the ball for this one. I really rate Bektic. He's 12-1 and looks an animal every time I see him. His one loss was that stunning comeback KO defeat to Darren Elkins but Bektic was totally wrecking him before the comeback. He bounced back with a stoppage win over the tough and scrappy Godofredo Pepey in January. If he can get a W over a former title challenger like Lamas here, also moving to 13-1, he should really be getting a contenders fight next up. 

 

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Claudia Gadelha vs Carla Esparza was a fight that was actually supposed to happen in Invicta twice when Esparza was the Invicta strawweight champ. Gadelha pulled out both times, first with a broken nose and the second fight was cancelled the night before the fight when Gadelha was taken into hospital. A year later, Gadelha won the first ever fight in the UFC's new strawweight division. A few months after that, Esparza became the UFC's first strawweight champ, beating Rose Namajunas to win the inaugural title in the TUF finale. It seemed like they were destined to fight at that point but Joanna Jedrzejczyk came in and fucked that up by beating them both. So here we are. It's finally happening, 5 years after it was originally booked.

 

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Rashad Evans vs Anthony Smith is a strange one. Like we've discussed recently, it's sad to see how far Rashad has fallen. At one stage he was one of he best and biggest names in the sport. At his best he had wins over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. In 2018 he's on a 4 fight losing streak, hasn't won in almost 5 years and is coming off back-to-back losses to journeymen Sam Alvey and Dan Kelly. A loss here would be 5 in a row, surely that'd be it? And Anthony Smith, although far from a household name, is a harder fight than your Alveys and Kellys, IMO. He's not going to grind out a split decision. He's going to try to knock your head off. He came from behind and knocked out Hector Lombard and Andrew Sanchez last year in fights he was losing. He's got heart and toughness and that warrior mentality that I think Rashad has lost somewhere along the line. The 'eye of the tiger' if you weeeel! As a Rashad fan, I've got a very bad feeling about this one. 

 

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Joseph Benavidez vs Sergio Pettis is most likely going to be a good technical fight between two top flyweights. Unfortunately it feels like Benavidez is in no mans land. He's already 0-2 to the champ Demetrious Johnson and even though he's won his last 6 fights, all against good fighters, it just doesn't feel like he's any closer to another crack at the gold. So all he's doing is eliminating contenders in a division which badly lacks them. For that reason, I hope Pettis wins this. He'd be a fresh face in the title picture and he's a good fighter. He's coming off that loss to Cejudo but a win here would put him right back where he wants to be.   

 

Beast of a card. Fingers, toes and pubes crossed that it all stays intact. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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I don't typically associate early June with massive MMA cards. The UFC have typically done a B-level PPV in June, and saved their big guns for the early July card, or stacked their earlier show in late May. This is one fucker of a card though. Even if a few injuries crop up, it will remain a very stacked card. 

4 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Overeem's kind of in that elder statesman role in the division these days. It's weird because he was the young lion in Pride when most of us started watching.

Aye, Overeem's career has gone through several relays.

When I first got into MMA in 2005, he was a tier 2 middleweight in Pride. He beat low-level fighters, but came up short most of the time against elite level talent (Lil Nog x2, Chuck, Arona, Shogun x2). In the latter stages of his Pride run he flirted with heavyweight. While he was subbed by Werdum, he did managed to beat Sergei, which was a massive upset at the time. To date, it remains one of Overeem's best scalps. 

After getting chewed up and spat out by 3 of Pride's best middleweights in 2006, Overeem went back to heavyweight and rebuilt his career in the Dream promotion. He went on a decent 3 year run, which got people's tongues wagging about him. He also had an impressive run in K1 during that period. Most of the MMA fighters he beat were either over the hill, or never made it up the hill in the first place. However, most of his scalps had name-value. For example, even people who trained with Todd Duffee knew that he was going to lose to Overeem, but because Duffee was well-known at the time due to his recent UFC run, their fight attracted a quite a bit of attention. By the time he beat Duffee and Rogers, Overeem had firmly made the step from prospect to contender. In early 2010, Fedor vs Overeem was the hottest fight in MMA outside of the UFC. A great deal of people thought that Overeem was going to be the one to end Fedor's streak. The Rogers victory in particular served as Overeem's coming out party in the states. 

As we now know, Werdum threw a spanner in the works by beating Fedor in mid-2010. Despite this, Overeem soldiered on with his wins over Werdum and Lesnar. The whole "horsemeat" controversy followed him closely throughout the late 2000's and well into the early 2010's, but those periods were still the peak of his career. He was considered to be a legitimate top 3 heavyweight for a lot of that time. From there, his career went all over the place in the UFC. He failed a pre-fight drug test in April 2012, and upon return in 2013, lost three out of his four next fights. His career looked to be in ruins. But it wasn't! He amazingly rebuilt himself again and got himself back into contention. Sure, he eventually lost to Miocic, but he came very close to winning that fight (I'm glad he didn't for the record). After that he bounced back again with back to back wins, until he got lifted off the ground by a Ngannou uppercut. 

Total all that up he has gone from being a mid-tier middleweight in Pride, to a brief stint as a heavyweight prospect, back to being a mid-tier middleweight in Pride, then back again to being a heavyweight prospect who moonlights as a world-class K1 kickboxer, to then becoming a legitimate top 3 heavyweight stateside, to then becoming a has-been, drugs cheat, and also-run in the UFC, and then finally back to being a legitimate contender in the UFC again. I don't really like the man, but you could never call his career conventional. 

 

 

 

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As if this card wasn't strong enough, MMAJunkie is reporting that Clay Guida vs Bobby Green has been added. I like that fight. Think Clay's re-signed a new deal as well. Sure his win over Lauzon was the last fight on his previous contract, wasn't it? Glad he's sticking around. 

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There's always a place for someone like Guida on any fight card in my opinion. Not everyone can be a title challenger or a top ten fighter.

This card looks fantastic from top to bottom, although I'm sure we'll see some fights fall away unfortunately, but all we can hope is that it doesn't affect the card too much.

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There's some footage on YouTube of a light sparring session at Roufusport w/ Punk from Dec 17; Christ, it doesn't look good still.

I'm a big fan of his heart and balls, but once this fight is out the way the whole affair needs to be put in the rearview.

This could go really sour for him if the Chicago MMA fans don't take to him. Could turn him to drink.

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49 minutes ago, David said:

There's always a place for someone like Guida on any fight card in my opinion. Not everyone can be a title challenger or a top ten fighter.

This card looks fantastic from top to bottom, although I'm sure we'll see some fights fall away unfortunately, but all we can hope is that it doesn't affect the card too much.

Guida's quietly making a bit of a resurgence. Moving back to 155 was a great choice, even at 36 id imagine Guida can be a handful with anyone who cant keep his pace. I fancy his chances against Bobby Green too, win that and hes knocking on the top 15.

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Duke claims Punk is "200% better", which I believe, but "200% better" can still mean he's having a hard time against every man and woman on the UFC roster not named Mike Jackson. I wonder if he's won a round in the gym yet?

I like Punk a lot. It's commendable he even decided to take up hard graft like MMA, when I'm sure he could have done some telly/film work instead, even more so considering the doing in his first fight. However, he shouldn't be in the UFC.

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3 minutes ago, ColinBollocks said:

Duke claims Punk is "200% better", which I believe, but "200% better" can still mean he's having a hard time against every man and woman on the UFC roster not named Mike Jackson. I wonder if he's won a round in the gym yet?

I like Punk a lot. It's commendable he even decided to take up hard graft like MMA, when I'm sure he could have done some telly/film work instead, even more so considering the doing in his first fight. However, he shouldn't be in the UFC.

Thing is Colin, maybe five years ago I'd have agreed with you, but not today.

What's the criteria required to be a UFC fighter today? The ability to draw eyeballs and sell shows. 

Punk fills that criteria, like him or not. Sure, he's not a main eventer and he won't be fighting for a title any time soon, but you just know that the announcement of his fight with Jackson will have spiked traffic to most MMA sites, which will result in more interest in the PPV card.

The fact that he's an 0-1 fighter is secondary to all of that nowadays.

Edited by David

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Mike Jackson uploaded a video on Twitter of him knocking out a paperboy in a boxing match, basically warning Punk what he’s in for come UFC 225, everyone slaughtered him for it.

He deleted the post shortly after. 

Edited by TildeGuy~!

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Fantastic. He's essentially "heeling it up" for going into Punk's hometown, comparing punk's standup to that of a Paperboy!

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1 hour ago, David said:

Thing is Colin, maybe five years ago I'd have agreed with you, but not today.

What's the criteria required to be a UFC fighter today? The ability to draw eyeballs and sell shows. 

Punk fills that criteria, like him or not. Sure, he's not a main eventer and he won't be fighting for a title any time soon, but you just know that the announcement of his fight with Jackson will have spiked traffic to most MMA sites, which will result in more interest in the PPV card.

The fact that he's an 0-1 fighter is secondary to all of that nowadays.

Fair enough. It's my opinion. Of course the UFC see it differently (you definitely have a point from their POV, and business sense), they've got bill$ to pay and that. If Punk manages to bump their buy rate again then they'll see it as a great decision.

However, we saw Punk fight and it was embarrassing. I guess there is some morbid curiosity to see how he'll fair against someone as terrible as his opponent, but if he fought again or not, I really couldn't give a care.

It's a bit Wagenheim of me, but freak fights are more fun when one of the fellas can actually sort of fight.

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I don't think it was embarrassing, he got well beaten in his first ever MMA bout by a guy who's went on to show that he's pretty decent. No real shame in that.

I've said it many times before, if the UFC want to feature Punk fights then they have to match him accordingly. Let's be honest, his opponent doesn't matter, it's not his opponent that people are tuning in to see. 

People aren't tuning in to see him in a competitive fight either, really. They're tuning in to see CM Punk, the WWE guy, either get smashed so they can gloat about it on social media, or to see him win because they like him from his wrestling days.

Nothing more. It's an exhibition bout really, nothing more.

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