The UFC is heading to Chicago this Saturday for UFC 225, which I would argue is the most stacked card to this point in 2018, from top to bottom. Robert Whittaker defends his middleweight belt for the first time against Yoel Romero in the main event, but it’s the RDA vs Colby Covington co-main event, which has an interim welterweight belt on the line, that really has people excited. CM Punk is also back in the octagon looking for redemption and that is sure to bring a lot more eyes to the PPV. On top of these three fights we also have Holly Holm vs Megan Anderson, Andrei Arlovski vs Tui Tuivasa, Alistair Overeem vs Curtis Blaydes, Claudia Gadelha vs Carla Esparza and Joseph Benavidez vs Sergio Pettis on the card. It’s stacked right from the Fight Pass prelims to the PPV.
All of the odds are taken from BetOnline.ag, our top rated betting site for MMA. Here’s our full BetOnline review for you to check out if you’re interested in opening an account and placing some bets.
Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero
I’m on Whittaker in this rematch of the interim title fight between these two. Whittaker had to battle a few injuries after his last fight with Romero, so he hasn’t fought since their last fight which was just under a year ago in July of 2017. Romero was able to earn this title shot after knocking out Luke Rockhold in their title eliminator fight in February. Whittaker was actually meant to fight Rockhold in that fight, but was forced to withdraw to injury, which allowed Romero to earn this rematch with his Rockhold KO.
That said, I’m going with Whittaker to once again win this rematch. He’s the better striker and he showed the ability to get up from Romero’s takedowns in their last fight. I think Whittaker’s takedown defense will actually be improved in this fight and as long as he can avoid the third round knockout blow that Romero seems to always find (last 5 KO’s have been in the 3rd round) then I think Whittaker’s elusive striking should be enough to win a decision and possibly find a KO of his own.
Play: Whittaker -233
Rafael dos Anjos vs Colby Covington
This is the fight I’m most looking forward to.
I think Covington actually runs through RDA. Dos Anjos has hand picked the three most over-ranked opponents since moving up to welterweight. He squeaked out a striking based decision over Tarec Saffiedine, who is no longer ranked, in his first welterweight fight. Then he hand picked Neil Magny who is ranked #8, but will be not be in the rankings for long. To his credit he ran through Magny, as he should, but it was still over a weak opponent. Then his last fight he was able to Robbie Lawler who is probably the most over-ranked opponent in the division. Lawler only has wins over Cerrone and Condit in the past three years and he barely squeaked out a controversial decision over Cerrone (who welterweight prospects are no steamrolling) and almost every agrees he lost the Condit fight (who any welterweight with takedown ability can roll through these days – even Magny beat him). This said, RDA still went 5 rounds against a Lawler that was clearly injured for the majority of the fight.
Overall, I’m just not at all impressed with RDA’s run at welterweight.
On the flip side, everyone seems to be saying that it’s Covington’s record that doesn’t actually warrant this fight, which I think is ridiculous. He just handily beat Demian Maia, who was coming off a title shot. He beat him much easier than Kamaru Usman did, and he also gave Maia the benefit of a full camp, which Woodley was unwilling to do for fear he would learn some takedowns.
Before that fight, Covington destroyed Dong Hyun Kim, and he also absolutely dummied Bryan Barberena and Max Griffin in his previous two fights, two guys who are no walkovers. The great thing is that Covington has been able to get all of his wins in a dominant fashion.
Covington will be the better wrestler in this fight. I think he will be able to get RDA to the mat and do damage from there. RDA may have the advantage on the feet, but I don’t think it’s as big of an advantage as many think and he doesn’t have the power at this weight to finish Covington standing. Colby isn’t a big welterweight, but he won’t be giving up any size against the lightweight RDA, and I think his wrestling will be the difference in this fight.
Play: Covington +103
Holly Holm vs Megan Anderson
Holm has to be the most overrated fighter in the UFC. She’s 1-4 in her last 5 fights, but for some reason she is still getting big fights and a win here could get her another crack at Cyborg. Even her wins early in her UFC career over Pennington and Reneau were nothing special. She’s just riding that Rousey win for all it’s worth.
I’m not high on Holm and I think against a bigger fighter in Megan Anderson, her striking may not be as successful. I also think Anderson will be the more active fighter and Holm loves to fight close fights, which can go either way at decision.
I just don’t see how Holm can be such a big favorite with a 4-4 UFC record, 1-4 in her last 5 and really never showing any improvements in her boring striking style.
I’m going with the natural featherweight.
Play: Anderson +180
Andrei Arlovski vs Tai Tuivasa
This is a hard fight to call. Tuivasa has looked like a killer in his two UFC fights with a couple of first round KO’s. That said, those two wins were over arguably the two worst heavyweights on the UFC roster in Rashad Coulter and Cyril Asker. This is a massive step up to Andrei Arlovski.
Arlovski has new life as well with two wins in a row after a streak of 5 losses. He fought very smart against both Albini and Struve in his recent two wins and he still has the power to KO opponents with a clean punch as well.
I have to go with the experience here. Tuivasa deserves to be the favorite because he looks like a potential contender, but Arlovski is a past champion, he’s only lost to the very best in the business, and I think he might have something up his sleeve for this fight.
Play: Arlovski +230
CM Punk vs Mike Jackson
I’m actually surprised CM Punk is such a big underdog in this fight. Yes, he was absolutely destroyed by Mickey Gall in his first UFC fight, being taken down in the first few seconds and then worked over before getting submitted a couple minutes in. That said, Mike Jackson is also 0-1 in his MMA career, and he was submitted in just 45 seconds after being dropped by Gall. For a guy who people like to tout as a golden gloves boxer and a muay thai fighter I am not impressed with his striking, and I would argue that his fight with Gall looked worse than Punk’s. At least Punk battled on the mat for two minutes and showed some grappling ability to last for a couple minutes against a top level grappler such as Gall.
It’s now been almost two years since Punk’s first UFC fight and that means two more years working on MMA at Roufusport, which is a very solid MMA gym. I think he’s probably improved quite a bit in those two years, considering he only started MMA a year prior to his fight with Gall.
Jackson is a muay thai fighter and not a very good one. I think Punk can come in with a solid game plan and get this fight to the mat when the opportunity presents itself. From there I expect him to have the edge in grappling and jiu jitsu having worked with guys like Pettis, Felder and Woodley.
This is largely a shot in the dark because it’s assuming that Punk has the edge in wrestling and grappling, but at these odds that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Play: CM Punk +180