UFC 225

Whittaker x Romero 2 / RDA x Covington

Picks, Parlays, and PPV Primer

Shakedown in Chicago

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PICKS

Romero x Whittaker
RDA x Covington
Anderson x Holm
Tuivasa x Arlovski
Brooks x Jackson
Blaydes x Overeem
Gadelha x Esparza
Lamas x Bektic
Smith x Evans
Benavidez x Pettis
Oliveira x Guida

PARLAYS

“All Night Long” EDITION
Romero (+175)
Tuivasa (-285)
Blaydes (-160)
Guida (+145)
$2.25 to win $31.03

“Darkest Timeline” EDITION
Covington (+100)
Holm (-225)
Arlovski (+185)
$5.52 to win $39.93

“A Real Shot” EDITION
Romero (+175)
Lamas (+170)
Arlovski (+185)
$5.00 to win $100.81

LIVE DOGS

Yoel Romero
Megan Anderson
Andrei Arlovski
Phil Brooks
Ricardo Lamas
Mike Santiago

PPV PRIMER

Windy City Heat

Chi-town, Chicago, Illinois; the land of big hearts, big shoulders, and broken dreams. The Second City is getting a first-rate card on Saturday and the whole night is stacked from top to bottom, including the early prelims. It’s so good, in fact, that I can’t limit myself to the main and co-main event. Instead, enjoy a rapidfire rundown of the entire PPV.

Robert Whittaker x Yoel Romero 2 for the Middleweight Championship

Robert "Bobby Knuckles" Whittaker

A fearless Kiwi striker packing heavy hands and huge heart. Sidelined with surgeries and a serious staph infection after his last fight with Romero, the champ returns to the Octagon in the same place he left it. Sharp boxing and willingness to engage makes it hard to hate Bobby Knuckles.

Yoel "Soldier of God" Romero

This suspiciously brawny Cuban wrestler has a supernatural pact with both Father Time and Gay Jesus. Nobody should ever root for a 41-year-old man in a fist fight unless it’s Yoel Romero. The former Olympian fights at his own pace and can be expected to explode at a moments notice.

What to Expect

If you’re looking for the two best middleweights in the UFC, you’ve found them. In their last showdown, we watched Whittaker win the war of attrition and decidedly take the later rounds. That was also the first time both men went a full twenty five minutes. While standing, Whittaker has an advantage everywhere except the power department – even that is arguable.  The champ is great at measuring distance and if he isn’t able to crash the Cuban missile early, he’ll look to pick up the pace and start to wear on the heavily-muscled Romero. Hopefully his injuries are behind him because he needs to stay mobile to defend the blitz.

Expect Romero to take his time, conserve energy, and lull Whittaker into a rhythm. At some point, probably when you blink, the Cuban will charge forward violently and look to finish the fight or take it to the ground. Whittaker is great at getting back to his feet, but I’d bet the silver-medalist has made a few tweaks since their last meeting. Yoel is unpredictable and that’s his greatest asset (and he’s got a massive asset). We know he’s the best wrestler in the division, but the staggering amount of diverse knockouts we’ve seen him deliver is unsettling. I expect nothing but violence from the man. If he can successfully force Whittaker to the ground, it will only be worse. Robert Whittaker’s lead leg is going to be a target and I don’t like the champ’s odds of fighting another perfect fight against the most dangerous man at 185 pounds. Rooting for the rubber match.

Prediction

Yoel Romero by violent TKO that will make us feel weird

Rafael dos Anjos x Colby Covington for the Interim Welterweight Championship

”RDA” Rafael dos Anjos

There’s no such thing as an easy fight against this versatile former lightweight champion who has a bottomless set of tools at his disposal. Rafael has fought a who’s who at 155 pounds and is currently riding a three fight win streak after making the move up to welterweight. In the last six years, the only men to defeat him have also had gold wrapped around their waist.

Colby “Chaos” Covington

Feel that cringe in the air? Someone must have put a microphone in front of this loud-mouthed wrestler who has no concept of fatigue or tact. Despite his clumsy attempts at self-promotion, Covington is a stellar grappler that has only recently broken through to the upper echelon of competition. He relies on cardio and a smothering top game to nullify his opponents.

What to Expect

Rafael dos Anjos but Rafael dos-not have any obvious weaknesses. He’s won in every way against every level of competition. With a majority of his wins coming by decision, it’s hard to believe he’s going to be controlled and exhausted by the up-and-coming Covington. Any issues RDA had with wrestlers is long behind him and his fight IQ is top tier. This will also be Covington’s first five round fight – even more of a reason not to count on him tiring out the crafty veteran. If Colby is forced to stray from his wrestling, the Brazilian will have him outgunned.

It’s admittedly hard to tell exactly how good Colby is. He only has one fight, and one victory, against top ten competition. In his last outing, we saw him completely nullify Demian Maia, one of the best MMA grapplers in the sport. It was the first time we saw Colby use his wrestling to stay standing. While he ate a few big shots, he was easily the more dominant fighter. That plan isn’t going to work with RDA. If Maia posed a threat on the feet, dos Anjos is going to eat his lunch. The real question is just how powerful Covington’s wrestling is. If he can establish position on RDA, we may be in for an eye-opener. Don’t count on it, though. I’ve never seen Rafael gasp for air.

As I type this with cheeto dust on my fingers, I completely understand why I have no right to dissect either man as an athlete. Too late. Winner gets an unnecessary interim title AKA a chance to fight the champion, Tyron Woodley, with a belt by their name on the poster.

Prediction

RDA wins an entertaining decision that pleases the hearts of many

Holly Holm x Megan Anderson at Women's Featherweight

Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm

America’s combat sports sweetheart may be on her way out of the game, but not before she spills some new blood. Holly Holm is arguably the most accomplished female fighter in the world and this will be her 57th professional appearance. Her commitment to technique has helped her thrive and, don’t worry, she knows exactly how to walk into a ring and fight another human.

Megan Anderson

Australia's female featherweight hopeful has finally made her way into the UFC and is shouldering plenty of hype. Mee-gan is a brutish six-foot-tall striker who can hit like a truck. She’s a hopeful addition to the 145-pound division where a problematic Cris Cyborg reigns supreme and a beloved Holly Holm just isn’t strong enough to beat her.

What to Expect

If you happen to be away from the TV, you can tell Holly is fighting if it sounds like somebody switched over to a tennis match. Every strike she throws is precise and deliberate, and also accompanied by a reliable “ish!” Holly has the power to put a lot of girls away, but she also has a tendency to be overly cautious. Nevertheless, she has amassed an impressive record and only seems to lose when she gets out-muscled by other high level strikers. Defensively-minded movement and masterful fundamentals make “The Preacher’s Daughter” difficult to put away. You can’t fake the funk against Holly Holm. If your striking isn’t sharp, you’re probably going to get hurt. Kicks, punches – the girl can do it all. It is interesting to note, though, that the former champion has yet to win an MMA fight at 145 pounds.

Megan Anderson is a welcome third entrant into a barren female featherweight division. While her striking isn’t exactly refined, it seems to get the job done. At only 28 years old, she’s built a solid 8-2 record with six finishes. Megan made the move to the states in 2016 to improve her training and hasn’t tasted defeat since. To me, her genetics and tenacity are her biggest attributes at the moment. She’s learned how to use her length to throw powerful knees when close and kicks at distance. Despite the massive gap in experience, I think Anderson will have an advantage in the clinch. That's where Megan might be able to stifle Holm’s movement and overpower her. If Holm gets overwhelmed by offense, or strength, she’ll stay inactive and defensive until the final bell. If Megan’s striking isn’t up to snuff, her nose will be flattened. Nerves and jitters aside, this is an equally tough and exciting first test for Megan. I’m buying in to the hoopla.

Prediction

Anderson takes a close decision and is christened The Cyborg Killer

Andrei Arlovksi x Tai Tuivasa at Heavyweight

Andre “The Pitbull” Arlovksi

This former champ has been around the block more than a few times and always remembers to pack a punch and his infamous fanged mouth guard. Andrei Arlovski is a legend with nothing left to prove but he can’t seem to help himself. Solid boxing and an underrated wrestling game have kept him afloat in a shallow heavyweight division.

Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa

Getting in a fight with two T’s and a handful of vowels is a dependable combo if you’re looking to catch a few Z’s. It won’t be a peaceful sleep, but Tai can definitely leave you unconscious and concussed in the middle of a ring. This big boy has yet to make it past the first round in seven professional MMA fights.

What to Expect

Easily among the most recognizable fighters in the UFC, Arlovski has been bleeding for our entertainment for almost two decades. The proud Belarusian was the heavyweight champion all the way back in 2005 and is still considered a top ten fighter today. In reality, that says less about him and more about the state of his weight class. After a rough five fight losing skid, Andre has been able to mitigate his aging skillset by tightening up his defense and relying more on his Sambo base. If he has to clinch you against the cage for all 15 minutes to stop the action, he will. My issue is when you weigh close to 300 pounds, any strike that gets thrown can do significant damage. We’ve seen Arlovski’s chin crumble over the years and, even though he’s looked more stable in recent appearances, it’s all just a matter of time.

Meanwhile, Tai can’t seem to help but brutally knock out everyone that stands across the cage from him. The gigantic Australian may only be two fights deep into his UFC career, but both have ended with a highlight reel finish. It’s rare to see a man that big throw, and land, a flying knee. What we haven’t seen Tai do is wrestle and that might be where Arlovski attacks. Look for Andre to establish a clinch against the cage in hopes of diminishing Tai’s cardio and dragging him into the later rounds. The problem is I expect Tai to land something big at some point and I doubt “The Pitbull” can withstand that level of punishment any longer. I’m underselling Arlovski, but his best days are probably behind him. I really just want to see Tai Tuivasa do another cageside shoey.

Prediction

Tuivasa by that nasty KO we’ve all seen coming since 2016

Phil Brooks x Mike Jackson at Welterweight

Phil “CM Punk” Brooks

The former WWE Superstar has been gifted another chance to test his mettle inside the Octagon. After an embarrassing fight against Mickey Gall, it will be interesting to see how he bounces back against an amateur opponent with no long-term interest in the sport.

Mike “The Truth” Jackson

To be honest, the truth about “The Truth” is he’s only in the UFC to make Brooks look competitive. After an embarrassing fight against Mickey Gall, it will be interesting to see how he bounces back against an amateur opponent with no long-term interest in the sport.

What to Expect

I mean, I don’t even know anymore. Neither man showed much of anything in their first fight. I have to assume the UFC is doing everything in their power to encourage a victory for CM Punk. Brooks will be in his hometown, he can afford a top tier coaching staff, he wanted to fight, he’s under no burden to perform, and he’s not facing a professional athlete. Mike Jackson has a handful of boxing matches to his name outside of the lone UFC appearance but he’s known for photographing the sport, not partaking in it.

Jackson was only brought into the organization as an easy win for Mickey Gall. The idea was to make Gall a legitimate “UFC Fighter” before facing Brooks. Well, Gall turned out to be too legitimate and beat both Brooks and Jackson in less than three minutes combined. The fates of these men are obviously intertwined and this whole thing was probably conspired from the jump. In a bizarre contrast to the rest of the card, this fight means nothing. I’ll still eat it up like popcorn. Look for CM Punk to hit his signature move, get the three count, and celebrate as fireworks go off.

Prediction

Brooks with a dramatic submission in front of his hometown, just as planned