Reigning middleweight champion Robert Whittaker faced Yoel Romero at UFC 225 in one of the best main events of the year on Saturday in Chicago. However, it was not without controversy. Leading up to the fight, Romero missed weight for the second consecutive time, changing the long-awaited rematch to a five-round non-title fight. Regardless of the mishap, MMA fans were treated to a barnburner of an event that saw Whittaker emerge victorious for a second time against “The Soldier of God.”
The fight played out over five rounds, and while Whittaker won a decision, the fight was hotly contested, with one judge scoring the fight in favor of Romero. In all three of the final rounds, Whittaker was put on wobbly legs by the challenger’s vicious power, but each time, he managed to compose himself and continue on. Whittaker revealed afterward that he suffered a broken hand early in Round 1 that greatly hindered him throughout the remainder of the fight. Regardless, Whittaker kept his composure and fired off hard, heavy shots.
The crowd was split when the decision was read. Among a chorus of simultaneous cheers and boos, Whittaker had the belt strapped around his waist and gave it up to Romero for delivering on the promise of a fight that was even better than their first. Upon being interviewed by Joe Rogan, Romero revealed he believed he had won the fight despite the decision and would love to meet Whittaker another 10 times before the end of his career. When prompted, UFC President Dana White indicated the light heavyweight division may be on the horizon for Romero.
Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk
Colby Covington and Rafael dos Anjos squared off in the co-headliner, their five-round battle deciding the fate of the interim UFC welterweight championship. The matchup was the culmination of months of mental warfare brought on by Covington and his act of embracing the “heel” persona throughout his move into the Top 10 at 170 pounds. When the two finally locked horns in the Octagon, Covington backed up all the talk and posted a unanimous decision over dos Anjos.
Covington utilized his grappling prowess across five rounds, applying an immense amount of unwavering pressure and sticking to dos Anjos’ hip pocket while keeping him against the cage and planting him on his back multiple times throughout the match. Dos Anjos was hard-pressed to find much success without the space to set up and throw strikes. In the end, Covington left the cage with the interim title.
In the aftermath of his latest victory, Covington sounded off on undisputed champion Tyron Woodley, played to the crowd and used the moment to soak in the limelight. It drew Woodley’s attention, prompting him to call for a fight with Covington as soon as possible on various social media platforms.
Holly Holm defeated Megan Anderson via unanimous decision, blowing up a potential matchup between Anderson and UFC women’s featherweight champion Cristiane Justino. After testing her opponent’s striking early in the opening round, Holm opted to utilize an obvious grappling advantage, as she took down Anderson seemingly at will and worked submission attempts and ground-and-pound. Holm’s brightest moments came in Round 2, where she landed yet another takedown, transitioned to side control and achieved full mount before raining punches and elbows on the desperate Australian to close out the frame … Tai Tuivasa remained undefeated, as he picked up a unanimous decision over former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. The fight was contested on the feet, with Tuivasa landing the harder strikes over three rounds; he rocked Arlovski in the middle of the second but could not finish the job. With that, Tuivasa was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career … Mike Jackson played the role of spoiler in Phil Brooks’ second Ultimate Fighting Championship appearance, defeating the former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar by unanimous decision. Jackson proved the be the more well-rounded fighter over three rounds, as he capitalized on an aggressive approach from “CM Punk,” landed hard counterstrikes on the feet and heavy ground-and-pound when the action spilled onto the mat. White later indicated that the loss may signal the end of Brooks’ run in the UFC, given that he sits at 0-2 and turns 40 in October.