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UFC 225 predictions

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Weight-cutting issues have brought a dark cloud over UFC 225, a card that otherwise was being considered to be the best in 2018. It’s unfortunate that Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero is no longer a championship bout, but let’s not forget this is still a great match up involving two world-class fighters. Apart from the great middleweight bout, there are a ton of good and important bouts on this card. UFC 225 features a high-profile women’s featherweight bout in Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson, a heated interim welterweight fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington, a key heavyweight bout pitting veteran Andrei Arlovski against prospect Tai Tuivasa, the return of CM Punk, who takes on Mike Jackson, and much, much more.

What: UFC 225

Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

When: Saturday, June 9. The four-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 6:15 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the five-fight main card begins at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.

Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero

Although we saw this fight last year, I still find it to be a compelling booking.

Robert Whittaker is a fantastic striker with great movement, speed, power and precision. Whittaker is super technical in everything he does and leaves very few holes or openings for his opponents to take advantage of. The UFC middleweight champion has an excellent takedown defense that allows him to implement his superb striking game.

Yoel Romero is easily the best athlete in MMA. The 41-year-old fighter is an extremely decorated wrestler. Romero’s wrestling skills and athleticism allow him to almost take anyone down in the UFC’s middleweight division. Romero also has pretty decent boxing. Add his scary power and explosiveness to his stand up and you have a dangerous striker that can put away anyone at 185 pounds.

Given Romero’s attributes this fight can go either way. However, I do believe Whittaker is the more skilled fighter here and the more polished technician too. Also, the Cuban fighter didn’t look great on the scale on Friday morning. I wonder how much his rough weight cut will hinder his performance on Saturday night. If Whittaker is able to avoid Romero’s power, which he’s proved to do in the past, I think he should be able to walk away with a decision.

I think Romero has a phenomenal survival instinct and he’s also tough as nails. I don’t think Whittaker will be able to put away the Cuban, but I do think he can out strike him and avoid being controlled in the grappling enough to get a decision victory.

Pick: Whittaker

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington

This might be the fight I’m looking forward to the most. For me, it’s between RDA-Covington or Whittaker-Romero. Covington has done plenty of talking, and I’m curious to see how he backs that up against a very dangerous Rafael dos Anjos.

Covington is a pressure fighter with decent striking technique, great takedowns, and solid submissions. Covington’s biggest weapons are his wrestling and solid top control. He’s also a solid athlete with good power and cardio.

On the other hand, dos Anjos is in my opinion is the pound-for-pound most well-rounded fighter on the UFC roster. The Brazilian can do it all. His grappling has very few holes, as dos Anjos has great takedowns, top control, takedown defense, submissions, and jiu-jitsu from the bottom. On the feet, it’s the same story line. Dos Anjos uses kicks, knees, punches and elbows and he uses them well.

The last time I checked the odds (Friday night), Covington was a slight favorite. I don’t know how that’s possible. I find dos Anjos to be significantly more skilled than Covington. I know Covington is the bigger man and that should work well with his solid wrestling, but this fight is five rounds, not three. I can’t see Covington controlling dos Anjos for 25 minutes. I see Covington having some success, but dos Anjos has multiple ways to win this fight. I can see dos Anjos stopping Covington whether it’s with a submission or strikes.

Pick: dos Anjos

Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson

In the beginning, I didn’t really agree with this booking, thinking it’d be a dangerous fight for Megan Anderson, who is a fresh and appealing contender for UFC women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg.

I still feel the somewhat the same way. I think Anderson should’ve been given a tune up fight considering her time off and considering that she has yet to be introduced to the UFC fan base. But now that the fight is here, I can’t deny that I’m excited for fight.

Holm is an experienced kickboxer. She’s hard to takedown and she’s just as hard to keep down. Holm also works at a high pace all throughout her fights, whether they’re three or five rounds. Meanwhile, stylistically Anderson is much different than Holm, but they do share some of the same strengths. Unlike Holm, who likes to circle around and go in and out, Anderson likes to pressure her opponents with her striking. Anderson also seems to hit harder and be physically stronger than Holm, but the former UFC champ possesses better movement and speed.

If this was a five-rounder, I’d favor Holm by a lot. She has the championship and big stage experience, plus the cardio and pace. However, in three rounds things get a bit more even, but I still favor Holm. I find Holm to be technically better than Anderson. I think she’ll get a decision win here.

Pick: Holm

Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa

The UFC got this one right.

Tai Tuivasa is an exciting prospect that shows tons of promise, but he still very young in the game having only seven professional fights. Tuivasa is quick, hits hard, and has good technique in his stand up.

Andrei Arlovski serves as a perfect challenge for Tuivasa. Arlovski is on a two-fight win streak, has a recognizable name, and doesn’t feel like an inappropriate step up Tuivasa. Don’t get me wrong, Arlovski is a game fighter here. He looked great and improved in his last outing against Stefan Struve, and he still has a formidable skill set.

I think if Arlovski implements takedowns he could have a path to victory. But given how his chin has held up in recent times, my hunch is that Tuivasa will be able to crack him at some point of their 15 minutes in the cage. I see Tuivasa getting a stoppage win here.

Pick: Tuivasa

CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson

Well, I might as well flip a coin for this one.

Both of these guys have only fought once and both of their fights ended in the first round. From their respective performances, it’s hard to tell where they’re at in their MMA game. Very little is known about these two.

But here’s what I do know: CM Punk is almost 40 and Mike Jackson is in his early 30’s; Jackson has had an amateur fight and a muay thai bout apart from his only professional MMA bout, while CM Punk has no experience outside his lone UFC bout. CM Punk was also dealing with a very stressful lawsuit leading up to UFC 225, while Jackson wasn’t.

Again, this one can go either way, but if I have to make a pick I’ll go with “The Truth.”

Pick: Jackson


Alistair Overeem def. Curtis Blaydes

Claudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza

Ricardo Lamas def. Mirsad Bektic

Rashad Coulter def. Chris de la Rocha

Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans

Joseph Benavidez def. Sergio Pettis

Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guida

Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago

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