This weekend saw the deepest UFC card of 2018 so far head to Chicago, Illinois, and it did not disappoint
Headlining the UFC 225 card was Sydney’s own Robert Whittaker’s first Middleweight title defense. He took on the man he had beaten almost exactly a year previously, Cuba’s Yoel Romero.
The Olympic silver medalist was fresh off a KO victory of Luke Rockhold, a victory that was diminished by Romero’s inability to make weight for the contest. He’s an enormous man, huge in frame and stature, and the fact that he is 40 years old makes the weight cut tougher still.
The weight cutting demons revisited Romero in Chicago, with him needing two attempts to make the 185lb Middleweight limit, eventually only managing 185.2lbs. Romero had missed weight, the title would not be on the line.
With Romero missing weight, Whittaker was not obliged to take the fight, but in true Aussie fashion Whittaker replied “the fans are expecting a fight, and that’s what I’m going to give them”. And give us a fight is exactly what they did.
In undoubtedly one of the fights of the year so far, the bout began in a bizarre fashion, with Romero staying at distance and keeping hands high, barely throwing a strike for the first 4 minutes of the first round. In fact it was almost the polar opposite of the first fight between the pair, with this time Whittaker being the aggressor, and aiming several Oblique kicks to the lead knee of Romero, the exact strike that Romero used to injure “The Reaper”‘s knee in the first fight. Anything you can do, I can do more violently…
The fight went on like this, tentatively and without really catching fire, both fighters hesitant to commit to strikes and wary of his opponents weapons. That is, until the third round. This was a round that will go down in UFC history for its illustration of violence and toughness.
The “Soldier of God” showed his capacity for violence beautifully in the third and fourth rounds. He dropped Whittaker twice, despite taking significant damage from the Aussie’s strikes, especially to his right eye.
The final two rounds were a delightful display of two martial artists at the top of the mountain. A high level chess match with dire consequences for the loser. Romero showed his brutal power, while Whittaker showed his durability and his fight IQ.
Whittaker ultimately got the decision, and showed phenomenal heart to survive Romero’s power and aggression. This was his first title defense, and the improvements that he is making demonstrate his potential to become an MMA icon of our generation.
The fight was awarded “Fight of the Night” honors, and due to Romero missing weight, Whittaker was awarded the full $100k bonus. Well earned.
UFC 225 co-main event
In to co-main event, Colby Covington outpointed former Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. Covington has courted controversy throughout his rise through the UFC, describing Brazilians as “animals”, dismissing Jon Jones as a “f**k up”, and promising to deliver his interim belt to Donald Trump.
Covington is now the interim Welterweight champion and has sealed a fight with Welterweight king Tyron Woodley. This could be the perfect turn of events for Woodley, as he has wanted the opportunity to become a PPV star, and Covington may have given his opportunity to become a fan-favorite and knock out a brash young star.
This match up will be huge.
The complete UFC 225 results can be found here.