UFC 225 will take place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, June 9, 2018. The undercard starts at 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Fox Sports 1, and the main card starts at 7:00 PM Pacific Time on PPV.
Robert Whittaker (19-4) (-240) vs. Yoel Romero (13-2) (+190), Middleweight (185 lb/ 84 kg) Non-Title Fight
This fight is no longer a title fight due to Romero missing weight for a second consecutive title bout. Whittaker is coming back after a long layover, but he has a solid striking game (4.77 SLPM, 41.02% accuracy) and excellent takedown defense (86.79% TDef). Romero is arguably the best athlete in MMA with Olympic level wrestling to keep him in the game. My prediction: Whittaker will drag the fight out into the championship rounds as he did last time, and Romero will once again run out of energy. Whittaker blocked 14 of Romero’s 18 TD attempts and landed 74 significant strikes to Romero’s 48. I expect this fight to play out in a similar fashion, with another decision victory for Whittaker, although I would not be surprised if Romero caught Whittaker with a powerful series of punches early on for a TKO.
UFC interim welterweight title: Rafael dos Anjos (28-9) (-120) vs. Colby Covington (13-1) (-110), Welterweight (170 lb/ 77 kg)
Rafael Do Anjos has to win this match, or else we will be stuck with six solid months of trash talk on all forms of social media from Colby Covington. RDA’s 3.67 SLPM are greater than Covington’s 3.09 SLPM, but Covington’s 5.98 TDAvg is 5.98 at 53% accuracy compared to RDA’s 2.14 TDAvg at 40%. I predict Covington smothering RDA and taking this one by decision.
Holly Holm (11-4) (-230) vs. Megan Anderson (8-2) (+180), Featherweight (145 lb/ 66 kg)
Not much is known about Megan Anderson, since this is her first UFC fight. In Invicta she racked up a 4-1 record with her 4 wins coming by TKD, and her 1 loss coming by triangle choke. Holly Holm poses no threat on the ground, so this match will likely be decided by strikes. Holm has some of the best boxing in women’s MMA, but she has lost 4 of her last 5 fights. Anderson is a true 145-pounder, so I expect her to surprise Holly Holm with sheer height and mass and win her UFC debut by decision.
Andrei Arlovski (27-15, 1NC) (+215) vs. Tai Tuivasa (7-0) (-275), Heavyweight (260 lb/ 118 kg)
Arlovski is one of my all-time favorites. He is coming off a two-fight winning streak, but he is facing a fighter with a SLPM of 8.72 at 68% accuracy compared to his 3.32 at 42% accuracy. Neither are a danger in terms of TD offense or defense, so the stats point to a potential victory by Tuivasa, possibly by TKO due to the Pitbull’s sometimes glass chin.
CM Punk (0-1) (+175) vs. Mike Jackson (0-1) (-225), Welterweight (170 lb/ 77 kg)
This fight happens to be a battle between fighters both coming off losses to Mickey Gall. There is not enough information to analyze, so flip a coin or pick the younger fighter. I will pick the younger Jackson to win by decision.
Alistair Overeem (43-16, 1NC) (+140) vs. Curtis Blaydes (9-1, 1NC) (-170), Heavyweight
Overeem seems to lose every fight when I pick him to win, but I will still pick him anyway. His 3.67 SLPM is lower than Blaydes’ 4.49, but he is more accurate at 61% compared to 49% for Blaydes. Blaydes can pull off the win by using superior TD game, considering his TDAvg of 7.29 compared to 1.46 for Overeem.
Claudia Gadelha (15-3) (-500) vs. Carla Esparza (13-4) (+350), Strawweight
Esparza has a horrible standup game, and if she cannot get any TDs she will simply be pounded in the face by Gadelha’s striking. I predict a TKO for Gadelha.
Ricardo Lamas (18-6) (+175) vs. Mirsad Bektic (12-1) (-225), Featherweight
Lamas is a wiley veteran with experience against high level fighters, and he should withstand Bektic’s takedowns to earn a decision victory.
Rashad Coulter (8-3) (-185) vs. Chris de la Rocha (4-2) (+150), Heavyweight
These fighters look nearly the same statistically and are both coming off consecutive losses, so I will say flip a coin.
Rashad Evans (19-7-1) (+240) vs. Anthony Smith (28-13) (-310), Light Heavyweight
Rashad Evans is coming off a 5,000-fight losing streak, and Anthony Smith has been improving. I give a slight edge to Smith in this one, and predict a decision victory.
Joseph Benavidez (25-4) (-250) vs. Sergio Pettis (16-3) (+195), Flyweight
Speaking of Victory, Pettis is coming off a loss to Cejudo, a fighter that Benavidez recently defeated. Statistically these fighters are rather close (3.62 SLPM @ 36% and 1.09 TDAvg/ 64% TDDef for Pettis vs 3.42 SLPM @ 33% and 1.21 TDAvg and 66% TDDef for Benavidez). I give a slight edge to Benavidez here, although I do like Pettis.