- UFC 225 takes place in Chicago on June 9th at 10:00 PM PT/ET
- Will cage rust hurt Robert Whittaker in his rematch with Yoel Romero?
- Will CM Punk get merked?
Things will get weird in Chicago at UFC 225. First, you have former WWE Champion CM Punk (0-1) making his return to the Octagon to face a part-time fighter and full-time photographer in Mike Jackson (0-1).
Secondly, anytime you have the outspoken Colby Covington on your card you can expect him to not only have his own personal security detail by his side but he’ll most likely be running his mouth and saying something controversial. Love him or hate him, it’s his “winning personality” that probably put him in the position to be fighting Rafael dos Anjos for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship.
Lastly, the UFC middleweight title is on the line and over the last year or so it has had an interesting journey. Right now it sits around the waist of Robert Whittaker who will defend it by going against the big, bad Yoel Romero for the second time.
As the saying goes, expect the unexpected.
The card is not necessarily stacked but the matchups are intriguing and the fans will have a lot to cheer for when a few of Chicago’s finest step foot into the Octagon. We’ve taken a look at three of the most talked about matchups on the card and have some predictions on this delicious deep dish of UFC action.
Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero 2
And in this Corner…
Robert Whittaker (19-4) loves to stay active fighting two or three times a year, but the last time we saw the Australian enter the Octagon was 11 months ago against the same opponent he meets at UFC 225.
When Georges St. Pierre vacated the middleweight belt, the UFC gifted the title to Whittaker and made him the undisputed champion. Unfortunately “The Reaper” went down with an injury and so the champ hasn’t had a chance to defend it. The 27-year-old rides an eight-fight winning streak that not only includes a big win over Yoel Romero (13-2) at UFC 213 but notable victories over the likes of Ronaldo Souza and Derek Brunson to boot.
The big man [Romero] might have a gas tank, but the longer the fight goes, the more it favors Whittaker.
When you take a look at the fight metrics, Whittaker averages 4.77 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 41 percent. Given Whittaker’s high-level amateur wrestling background he surprisingly only averages 0.44 takedowns per 15 minutes with an accuracy percentage of 44.4%. That said, he boasts a takedown defense of 86% and uses his wrestling to avoid being taken to the canvas and is more than capable of ending things extremely fast on his feet too.
Yoel Romero has won 85% of his fights by way of knockout and reminded us again why it only takes one punch to end things in a hurry when he recently KO’ed Luke Rockhold at UFC 221. He also averages 3.06 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 52.1%. He can pretty much dictate where a fight goes and loves to use his high-level wrestling base to take his opponents to the ground (1.87 takedowns with 32.6% takedown accuracy) to smash them with some nasty ground and pound.
Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero 2 Fight Breakdown
The last time out, Whittaker was able to survive not only an early injury to his knee but withstood Romero’s best weapons multiple times. “The Soldier of God” was able to take Whittaker down four times and landed more strikes throughout the fight but it wasn’t until the third round that Whittaker was able to find his groove and take the fight over with some timely shots.
At 41-years-old, Romero is in great shape and still loves to throw creative strikes like a flying knee or a quick elbow. For him to win this fight he will need to finish Whittaker early and not allow things to get into the deep waters of the later rounds. The big man might have a gas tank, but the longer the fight goes, the more it favors Whittaker.
The 11-month layoff for Whittaker should concern some bettors in this matchup. The 27-year-old has always been fairly active and so it will be interesting to see how much rust, if any, he brings into the Octagon.
I’d expect him to be cautious at first as all it takes is one mistake and usually, Romero’s opponents end up staring at the lights. The fact that Whittaker was able to survive everything that was thrown at him the last time these two faced each other, should give him all the confidence in the world to repeat that similar performance.
Whittaker is just far more technical on the feet and should be able to avoid taking too much damage on the ground with his solid takedown defense.
As much as the +175 has some value on Romero, I’m taking Whittaker for another decision win.
Predicted Winner: Robert Whittaker
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington
|RAFAEL DOS ANJOS||-135|
And in this Corner…
Rafael dos Anjos (28-9) has looked really good over the last year or so and enters this fight having won six of his last eight fights including an impressive win over Robbie Lawler. He’s a complete fighter who averages 3.67 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 44.3-percent and 2.14 takedowns with an accuracy of 40%. The key stat to remember in this fight though is his takedown defense at 64%.
He’s an aggressive striker who likes to push the pace and does a great job of mixing his punches and kicks. He also has no problems changing levels and taking his opponents to the canvas where he can show off his jiu-jitsu skills. The former UFC Lightweight Champion likes to set a high pace and has great stamina having been on the winning side in 14 of 20 career decisions.
I believe we could be seeing a star in the making and even if he [Covington] rubs you the wrong way, people will pay to see someone beat him up.
Colby Covington (13-1) might not have the same type of resume as his opponent, but he brings the same kind of relentless aggression into the Octagon. Covington has won each of his last five fights and is coming off an October win over Demian Maia. Although he is considered more of a wrestling machine he does average 3.09 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 41%. But it’s the 30-year-old’s grappling (and his big mouth) that has seen him climb up the welterweight standings. Covington is averaging 5.98 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 53.9% which means dos Anjos better be prepared to defend multiple takedown attempts.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington Fight Breakdown
We expect this fight to go all five rounds. Both men can grapple and although Covington has 41 takedowns in the UFC, dos Anjos boasts some solid takedown defense and has only been taken to the canvas just once in his last four fights.
The ground game won’t matter much for Covington if he gets clipped early by dos Anjos’ power while he’s rushing in. If he can handle the Brazillian’s standup and pace, look for Covington to slow things down with a constant attack of takedowns. He’s a wrestling machine that usually forces his opponent’s to fight his style of fight.
Covington’s mouth might have gotten him the attention and this title shot and maybe his remarks about Brazilians has added fuel to dos Anjos’ fire, but don’t forget that the Oregon native has a skillset that beat Demian Maia. I believe we could be seeing a star in the making, and even if he rubs you the wrong way, people will pay to see someone beat him up. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be at UFC 225. There is value on Covington at +105 and I like his wrestling prowess that I see him squeaking out a win.
Predicted winner: Colby Covington
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson
|PHIL “CM PUNK” BROOKS||+185|
And in this Corner…
I will spare you the stats and background information as both men were beaten by Mickey Gall quite handily in their Octagon debuts. So in some ways, this is the perfect matchup for someone like Punk who is on the main card solely because he’s in his hometown of Chicago and brings some pay-per-view cache.
These are two rookie competitors which makes it’s hard to predict a fight that will probably be more like a backyard scrap where anything could happen.
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson Fight Breakdown
I wish there was a way for CM Punk (0-1) to use his pattened GTS finishing move he had during his time in the WWE, but that’s sports entertainment and this is real life. It’s been a year and a half since Punk’s debut, and since that time he has continued training with some of the best at Duke Roufus’ gym in Milwaukee. Is that enough time to get better? Sure. But is it enough to compete at the highest level? No.
Yet you have to appreciate the heart and the desire from the former WWE Champion. It was his celebrity status and the passion for the sport that got him a shot at stepping inside the UFC Octagon, and it’s a win/win for the promotion and Punk. That said, another loss will probably bring an end to this experiment.
Mike Jackson (0-1) has been training for a few more years and is considered a striker. It’s unclear what his ground game is like as he was submitted fairly easily by Gall. At 6’2″ he also has a bigger reach so if he can work the jab and leg kicks he could pick Punk apart on the feet.
These are two rookie competitors which makes it’s hard to predict a fight that will probably be more like a backyard scrap where anything could happen. Jackson might have a bit more experience on his side but he lacks any real wrestling skills and has little head movement in his standup. Assuming Punk has improved over the last 18 months, this is a winnable fight for him.
This is a toss-up that might not be worth betting on but I’m leaning on the plus money side of things.
Predicted Winner: CM Punk