Robert Whittaker has spent the last 18 months consolidating power atop the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division.
“The Reaper” turned away Yoel Romero for a second time at UFC 225 on June 9, as he withstood a furious charge from the 2000 Olympic silver medalist and held on for a split decision in the main event. It will not go down as a successful title defense for the undisputed champion -- Romero missed weight for the rematch -- but Whittaker remains the standard by which all other current 185-pound fighters are judged. The 27-year-old has won nine fights in a row and figures to face another stiff challenge, perhaps against Kelvin Gastelum, in his next appearance inside the Octagon. For now, he retains his spot as the No. 1 middleweight in the Sherdog divisional rankings.
There were other movers and shakers at UFC 225. Colby Covington backed up his rhetoric by taking care of business against Rafael dos Anjos in the five-round co-headliner, where a unanimous decision brought him the interim welterweight crown and set the stage for unification bout with undisputed champion Tyron Woodley later this year. Covington improved to 9-1 in the UFC and has pieced together a six-fight winning streak against increasingly difficult opposition.
Meanwhile, Holly Holm exposed the weaknesses in Megan Anderson’s still-developing game, as she turned to takedowns and positional advances to claim a unanimous decision against the dangerous Aussie. Holm has proven to be a go-to performer in multiple weight classes for the UFC. As such, she moves to No. 5 at 145 pounds while maintaining her spot as the No. 2 bantamweight in the world.
Finally, Curtis Blaydes joined the ranks of the heavyweight elite and did so in gruesome fashion, as he carved up former Strikeforce and Dream champion Alistair Overeem with elbows for a third-round stoppage. Blaydes is 5-0-1 in six appearances since his UFC debut resulted in a technical knockout loss to Francis Ngannou in April 2016. The Elevation Fight Team rep sports eight finishes among his 10 career victories.
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