UFC 225: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 225: Punch Drunk Predictions

So I’m still super-pumped about this card as a whole, though I have to admit Romero missing weight and the uncertainty of everything (as of this writing on Friday evening) really sucks in quite a few ways.

It sucks for Whittaker because he did his job and deserved a chance to solidify his place atop the division by beating Romero again without anyone offering up any kind of excuses, though the Cuban doesn’t really have any as far as I’m concerned.

It sucks for the UFC because there is a chance that Romero wins and then the division is stuck in a major way because the champ will have lost to a guy that blew weight for back-to-back title fights and the thing that would make the most sense is running it back a third time – since they’d be 1-1 – but there is no way to trust Romero can make the weight… so then what?

It sucks for the fans who are sick and tired of crucial fights getting cancelled or complicated at the last minute because professional fighters are being unprofessional. And that’s all this is: unprofessionalism. You know when you have to weigh in and you know what the scale has to say. You have ample time to ensure it happens and if it doesn’t, that’s on you. Your first job is to make weight and if you don’t do your job, that is called being unprofessional.

More professional fighters need to learn to handle these sorts of things with greater professionalism because for as much attention as we give the few that miss, most of these competitors handle their business without issue.

On to the predictions.

Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero

I was picking Whittaker before Friday’s missed weight and I’m picking him with even more conviction now.

Listen: he beat Romero last summer with a bad wheel that was made worse right out of the gate. He made the right adjustments, didn’t panic and delivered a tactically smart, technically sound, masterful performance to claim the interim title… and now he’s fully healthy and probably more than little pissed off that four months after Romero missed weight against Luke Rockhold, he’s done it again here.

I always thought Whittaker would deploy a similar game plan to their first encounter – stay outside, pick his spots, disrupt Romero’s timing when he can, defend takedowns and scramble well – and the only thing I want to add is that now I think he’ll get the finish.

Romero looked to be in agony after his second weigh-in and dejected on the scales at the ceremonial weigh-ins this afternoon. Whittaker bleeds his gas tank and then puts him away with ground-and-pound down the stretch.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington – for the interim welterweight title

I know it’s not as simple as “Fighter X looked great last time and Fighter Y didn’t look as good,” but in his three welterweight appearances, dos Anjos has dominated Top 10 opponents, while Covington looked good, but not great against Demian Maia, out-worked Dong Hyun Kim and hasn’t really beaten anyone else of true substance.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought this was a bad matchup for Covington from the jump and I’m not sure I’ve read or seen anything in the build to this fight that has convinced me otherwise. Dos Anjos has good takedown defense, good power in his hands, a deft submission game on the ground and the kind of pressure style that doesn’t allow opponents to get comfortable and I’m just not sure Covington will be able to mount enough offense to win three of five rounds against the more seasoned, more talented Brazilian.

For me, the Maia fight is instructive: Covington ate a lot of shots in that bout and while some of that is because he wasn’t too worried about Maia’s power, dos Anjos can crack and I’m not sure Covington has a Plan B when he’s unable to implement his wrestling. If he gets stuck standing – and I think he will – I think he gets lit up.

Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos

Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson

This one is really interesting to me because I think Anderson will come forward and take the fight to Holm, but that’s kind of what the former bantamweight champion needs in order to really be effective with her offense, so I’m curious to see if the UFC newcomer can have her own success without giving Holm too many opportunities to get off her own shots?

My guess is that she won’t be able to and Holm will earn a decision over the course of 15 minutes. This is a huge step up in competition for Anderson and her first fight since January 2016, so while I think she has a bright future, I also think this is too much, too soon for the returning Australian and Holm will be able to stick and move, stinging her with punches and kicks while avoiding the big blows that have felled Anderson’s lesser opponents.

Prediction: Holly Holm

Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa

This one is simple to me: Arlovski has never been great at taking a shot and Tuivasa hits like a goddamn truck.

As much as I could see the former champion using his wrestling and trying to keep the Australian upstart on the canvas for 15 minutes, I just don’t think he’ll be able to keep his chin tucked and untouched for three rounds. At some point, Tuivasa will find a home with something and Arlovski will fall.

Prediction: Tai Tuivasa

CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson

How do you even really handicap this one?

Both are 0-1 with first-round submission losses to Mickey Gall. Neither has fought since. Jackson has been out longer than Punk, but he’s also boxed a little and done some kickboxing and has been in an MMA gym training for much longer overall.

The question is going to be how well Punk can take a punch because I don’t think he’s got the jam to pop Jackson with something serious that tilts this fight, so he’ll need to get it to the canvas in order to have any success and my guess is Jackson will try to catch him with something coming in.

But what the hell – I’m willing to throw a pick away in order to take a shot that Punk gets it to the floor and finds a submission because Jackson looked completely overwhelmed on the mat against Gall and what would be wilder than CM Punk registering an actual UFC victory?

“BEST IN THE WORLD!”

Prediction: CM Punk

Preliminary Card Picks

Alistair Overeem def. Curtis Blaydes
Claudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza
Mirsad Bektic def. Ricardo Lamas
Rashad Coulter def. Chris de la Rocha

Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans
Joseph Benavidez def. Sergio Pettis
Clay Guida def. Charles Oliveira
Mike Santiago def. Dan Ige

2018 Prediction Record: 110-76-0 (.591)

Comments are closed.