UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC 225 card in Chicago.
Updated: June 9, 2018 • 12:08 PM ET
Robert Whittaker is looking to keep his long winning streak alive.
Update: The Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero main event will no longer be for the middleweight title due to Romero failing to make weight.
The UFC is invading Chicago for UFC 225 this Saturday with a stacked card that will feature a rematch for the middleweight title, an interim welterweight title fight and much more. Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will defend his belt against No. 1 ranked Yoel Romero in the main event — a rematch between two of the most dynamic fighters in the world.
Whittaker is on an eight-fight winning streak, but hasn’t fought since defeating Romero by unanimous decision at UFC 213 in July 2017. During the fight, he suffered a medial knee injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the year. He was scheduled to defend the title against Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in February, but a serious staph infection forced him to withdraw from the fight. Romero went on to fight Rockhold and could have won the interim title after knocking him out, but he failed to make weight before the fight.
During his win streak, Whittaker has defeated high profile fighters such as Romero, Ronaldo Souza, Derek Brunson, Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. Whittaker has proven to be a well-rounded fighter and in his first fight against Romero, he exposed holes in Romero’s game that other fighters haven’t been able to find. The Australian champion is 10-2 in the UFC and 20-4 overall.
Romero’s only loss in the UFC was to Whittaker. The 41-year-old is 9-1 in the promotion, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down or a loss of power. His third round KO of Rockhold in February was proof that his ability to explode on his opponent at any moment is still among the best in the middleweight division.
The Cuban was a silver medalist in wrestling at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and is a freestyle world champion. He’s a physical freak with excellent wrestling, power in both hands and an explosiveness that is hard to match. He has defeated fighters such as Rockhold, Souza, Brunson, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida and Tim Kennedy.
Saturday’s co-main event between No. 1 Rafael Dos Anjos and No. 4 Colby Covington will be for the interim welterweight title. The winner will likely earn the right to face champion Tyron Woodley.
Dos Anjos is a former lightweight champion and has looked like a new fighter since moving up to welterweight. He’s on a three-fight winning streak that includes victories over contenders Neil Magny and former champion Robbie Lawler.
The Brazilian has fought in the UFC for nearly a decade and at 33 years old, he’s no stranger to big fights or big moments. His opponent on Saturday has used controversial statements and wow moments to earn the right to fight him, but Dos Anjos will enter the fight unfazed by the antics (remember, he was scheduled to fight Conor McGregor once upon a time).
“I grew up in Brazil in the favelas, man,” Dos Anjos said on a recent media conference call. “For me, bullies, trash talk doesn’t work with me, but I think Colby is just trying. Conor does that well.
Conor is a rich man, he make a lot of money, he’s a business man. I can respect that, but Colby, he just a worse version of Conor McGregor. He’s trying to be like Conor, but when he loses to me, his career is done. All he has is talk, nothing else.”
Covington has used every platform imaginable to trash talk everyone from Woodley to UFC commentator Joe Rogan. His ability to spit fire with words has made him a fan favorite — love him or hate him. Covington is 8-1 in the UFC and riding a five-fight winning streak, which includes a victory over former title challenger Demian Maia. After the fight with Maia, he called Brazilians “filthy animals.” Dos Anjos will represent one of the biggest challenges of Covington’s career and his biggest win if he can claim victory.
The Rest of the Main Card
Holly Holm will take on UFC newcomer Megan Anderson in a featherweight fight with major title implications. Holm is coming off a title loss to Cris Cyborg in December and is 1-4 in her last five fights, but she could earn another shot at Cyborg with an impressive victory on Saturday.
Anderson will make her long-awaited debut on Saturday. She was supposed to challenge Cyborg last July, but pulled out of the fight due to what she called personal reasons. She has only lost twice in her career and is a former Invicta FC champion.
Former heavyweight champion and No. 9 ranked Andre Arlovski will battle rising power puncher and No. 12 Tai Tuivasa. Arlovski has won two straight fights after experiencing a five-fight losing streak. He made his UFC debut 18 years ago and has defeated fighters that includes Frank Mir, Ben Rothwell, Roy Nelson, Fabricio Werdum and Tim Sylvia.
Tuivasa is 2-0 in the UFC, winning both fights by first-round TKO. With a win over a premier name like Arlovski, the 25-year-old could quickly become a rising contender in an old heavyweight division.
Rounding out the main card will be a welterweight fight between CM Punk and Mike Jackson. Former WWE star Punk is looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss to Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in 2016. Jackson is also trying to rebound from a shaky UFC debut in 2016 after also losing to Gall.
Heavyweight fight - No. 2 Alistair Overeem vs. No. 4 Curtis Blaydes
Strawweight fight - No. 3 Claudia Gadelha vs. No. 6 Carla Esparza
Featherweight fight - No. 7 Ricardo Llamas vs. No. 11 Mirsad Bektic
Heavyweight fight - Rashad Coulter vs. Chris De La Rocha
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Light heavyweight fight - Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith
Flyweight fight - No. 1 Joseph Benavidez vs. No. 5 Sergio Pettis
Lightweight fight - Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira
Featherweight fight - Mike Santiago vs. Dan Ige
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