Robert Whittaker took a five-year split decision on Yoel Romero in the main case of UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 on Saturday. It was a close blow, with both fighters who took and delivered big shots and drove mostly out of gas when the fourth and fifth round came.
Whittaker is the UFC Middleweight Champion, but still due to Romero's lack of weight for the competition.
The first time Whittaker and Romero fought, it was for the midfielder, but Romero lost weight and became incompatible to win the title, which means that only Whittaker could win it. He did, and eventually was promoted to undisputed champion.
Saturday's rematch was originally planned to be a defense for Whittaker, but Romero lost weight again and it ended up being a non-title game. But Whittaker got the win, so the division was not thrown into further chaos.
Whittaker began with the clear edge of Romero, struck more strikes, was aggressive and generally controlled the action. He took the first round and maybe at least one of the next two, but ate a big shot that rocked him and gave Romero, who was then breathed new life.
In the co-main event, Colby Covington won the temporary UFC Welterweight Championship with a unanimous decision to win over Rafael dos Anjos. It was a high-pitched match, but one like Covington won mainly because of eighth-round check for all but fourth round. He did not do much damage to dos Anjos, but he held him against the fence a lot and the pressure he held was enough to float the judges.
Covington is now likely to fight Tyron Woodley to unite belts when Woodley is ready. The champion has said he is planning to be ready in August, which may be too early for a turn for Covington, so we'll see how it goes.
In the main game, Holly Holm dominated Megan Anderson in a women's featherweight competition. Holm landed more strikes, hit four takedowns and looked like she could go three rounds when the match went to the judges. Anderson looked superior above all else. Holm officially won the competition with unanimous decision, with two judges giving her a 30-26.
The main card was opened with the MMA return from former WWE superstar CM Punk, in just his second match ever. The first was a first loss in the hands of Mickey Gall, who was the same fate as Punks UFC 225 opponent Mike Jackson led in his first match. Saturday's match was every match's second match after losing its first in almost identical manner.
Unfortunately for Punk he did not look good. He looked tired in the middle of the second round, and was clearly out-classed standing. He could get a few takedowns, but could not do anything with them and lost a three-year unanimous decision.
In the ensuing match, veteran Andrei Arlovski Tai Tuivasa took out for the first time for the first time in Australia's career. The fight went well and was very close, but the judges gave the decision to Tuivasa with unanimous decision.
On the preliminary card there were three different divided decisions, but also five finishes. Rashad Evans, the biggest name of the subcard, was defeated by Anthony Smith in the first round. Charles Oliveira made a huge submission victory (Guillotine choke) over Clay Guida, while Sergio Pettis was on the winning part of one of the aforementioned shared decisions of Joseph Benavidez.
On FS1 preliminary cards, Curtis Blaydes earned an intense and violent TKO victory over Alistair Overeem in the third round of a heavyweight bout. Blaydes will overeem with big elbows on the ground, and there was no recovery for the latter. Cláudia Gadelha also consisted of Carla Esparza through split decisions, like Mirsad Bektić over Ricardo Lamas.
Below you will see play-by-play as it happened from the main board and below is the complete list of results for the entire UFC 225 match card.
Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Round 1: Whittaker begins with a short leg park and then a right upper hand that does not connect. Big kick to the body from Whittaker lands. The upper left of Romero only grazes Whittaker. Massive, massive Haymaker from Romero misses as Whittaker ends. Shin kick from Whittaker. Straight right from Whittaker may throw guard. Right left do the same. Romero is very passive right now. Whittaker's main park is blocked. Spinning back fist from Romero is missing only. It does not happen much like the round ends.
Round 2: Romero comes out with a strange attitude, his left elbow far away. He eats three big body chicks from Whittaker. Benspark from Whittaker as he spins away from a Romero hook. Left straight from Whittaker lands. Be kick from Romero, followed by a big combo from Whittaker. Serious, severe swelling under Romero's right eye. Romero lands a decent hook, but he is encrypting right now. Whittaker keeps out of the way of dangerous strikes. Two left stretches from Whittaker. Round Ends, and it's another Whittaker round.
Round 3: Whittaker looks very confident and Romero looks very tired and then … Romero rocks Whittaker with a short punch that sends him to the carpet. Whittaker scrambles to get away, back up, run and Romero tries to finish him. But Whittaker binds to the fence and may have recovered … until he eats a real uppercut from Romero who staggers him. Whittaker answers with a huge left elbow that puts Romero down to a knee, then a right elbow like Romero rises. Romero joins a big hook, but they bind again with three minutes to go. Whittaker was almost ready for that. If he can survive, Rome's fuel tank is likely to be empty. Between these elbows, Romero also landed a nice uppercut. Both men slowed down things against the fence. Romero takes deep, deep breath. Romero tries to remove, but does not get it. Whittaker lands a left straight, and Romero lands his own, flush his chin. Whittaker is back up against the fence again, and Romero begins to tee off. Big winding hooks that hurt, but Whittaker is coming away. He lands a hard head kick, but Romero goes through it. Still a minute to go! They are tied to the fence. Whittaker switches out and gets Romero back against it. Round ends with both fighters taking GREAT deep breath.
Round 4: In the championships, despite Romero, is not eligible for a championship. Left straight from Whittaker lands. Whittaker's low-pitch park may be too low, and Romero will probably take as much time as possible here. They resume after a few minutes. Whittaker lands a straight kick against the body, and Romero blocks a follow-up main park. Romero throws a flurry, but Whittaker breathes it. Whittaker lands three consecutive left jabs on Romero's swollen right eye. Another front kick to Whittaker's body lands hard. Romero has not had much crimes in this round. He has trouble connecting to something. He gets a nice blow to the body. At the end of the round Romero lands with a pair of hooks that hurt but he can not follow them. Would be a Whittaker round, still.
Round 5: Hard spinning to the body from Romero. Whittaker goes in for another shin kick and Romero wings again a spinning fist that just misses. Hard jab from Whittaker lands. Short jumping from Romero is blocked by Whittaker. Romero comes out as he knows he needs a finish. He turns big but does not land anything big until Whittaker becomes sloppy and turns his back to Romero, something he has done several times this fight. Romero connects a hard punch just around the jaw while Whittaker circles and Whittaker goes down. Romero swarms, goes to goal, and is in a sprawl position. Whittaker tries to get back to the fence, while Romero throws blows from the top. None of them are particularly hard, but Whittaker is still in real danger here. He gets to his feet and eats a knee from Romero, who then travels. Whittaker back to his feet, and triggered again. Romero hung on his back. They are both exhausted. Hard knees to the thigh from Romero, who travels Whittaker again, but again he is right back. One minute to go, with Romero holding on the Whittaker's back. The referee enters and separates them with 35 seconds to go. Both fighters bounce up and down as they can go five more rounds – they can not. Romero tries a wheel park but misses. Both go for the head kick, but they block each other. Battle ends!
Colby Covington def. Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Round 1: Throwing immediately heavily and scrambling into a ceiling for Covington. He gets the dose of Anjos against the fence. He drops him for a takedown, but dos Anjos pops up again. Good knee to the body from dos Anjos. Covington connects with a left hand. Left hook plus a rigid right straight ground clearance for dos Anjos. Covington pushes him to the fence again. Good knee to the body from dos Anjos. Head kick just grazes for Covington. Hard body park from dos Anjos. Hard shot to the body from Dos Anjos Trips Covington. Hard left from Covington misses. Covington tries to make another takedown against the fence and eats a big knee to the body. Hard right hand and then go to the body from dos Anjos, like Covington scrambles again for another takedown. Two legs kick from Covington country. Right hand landing for dose Anjos, then a front kick down in the middle, then a hard leg. Covington goes through everything, but lands nothing by himself. Covington misses a spinning backfist and lands a few short legs kicking. Covington gets dose Anjos to the fence with 10 seconds to go and the round ends. This was dos Anjos' round, simple.
Round 2: Covington tries a main park but it is blocked, then he throws a quick, sloppy flurry that becomes a takedown, the same as the beginning of the first round. Dos Anjos pops up again, his back to the fence. Good within the elbow from Covington. Crowd delivers high "Colby sucks!" Singing because they bought in Covington's racist tunnel. They are outside the fence. Benspark from Covington and two heavy right hands to the body from dos Anjos. Big left from dos Anjos, as Covington throws several low kicks, none of which countries. Uppercut misses from Covington. Right hand over the upper countries, then a left uppercut clip Anjos, and it may be his best shot of the match. Back to the fence, Covington is looking for the roof décor. Left hook from dos Anjos lands as they differ. Covington succeeds in catching Anjos off-balance and taking his back against the fence. Dos Anjos returns to stand quite quickly. This was probably Covington's round, but it was close.
Round 3: Covington eats a left hand but gets Anjos's dose to the fence again. Dos Anjos goes out of it and lands a knee to the body, but is quickly back up to the fence again. They differ, and a kick to the body from Covington lands, as well as a straight right from Covington. Covington is certainly more active, and he controls dos Anjos against the fence, but he does not hurt. Low blow from Covington and ref stops the action for a short while. They are against the fence again, and when they differ, Covington connects with two hard unches before pushing the dose of Anjos back to the fence. The left hook from Covington lands, and he tries for a takedown. He does not get it, but we get much more action against the fence. Two heights from Covington and two knees from dos Anjos. Covington speaks rubbish like the round ends.
Round 4: Dos Anjos lands a hard, hard left hand straight out of the gate in fourth. He blocks ah ead kick from Covington, then lands a nice shot against the body. Covington lacks two wing hooks. Right uppercut from Dos Anjos lands, and Covington tries for another takedown. He does not understand that. Dos Anjos, however, shoots for his own takedown and gets it. He wins up in a cracking position, maybe looking for a front shock. Covington is back and has dose Anjos against the fence. But dos Anjos comes back, and shoots for his own takedown again, and gets it. Covington tries to go to the fence, and he eats some hard knees to his thighs. Covington returns, but dos Anjos pulls him back. Eventually they stop and dare Anjos landing a fine right straight. Covington is able to push him back to the fence again, but it is brief. Dos Anjos shoots for another takedown, and does not get it. Good right straight from Covington lands, and then a counter directly on the follow-up from dos Anjos, and now more fences. Large gas park from dos Anjos. Covington throws a big flurry, no big land, but he gets a single leg and draws dos Anjos down to the ground. This may be in two rounds.
Round 5: Should also enter fifth. Covington begins the same way, gets Anjos's dose to the fence and tries to take a while. He throws some knees in his thighs at dos Anjos. Covington only misses a superman ball, and dos Anjos misses just a flying knee. Covington gets a short roof, but dos Anjos gets to his feet. Covington throws two short kicks to the body to close the distance, and the dose of Anjos ends up against the fence again. He will not win if he continues to allow this. He must be different, otherwise this match will win almost entirely on control of the fence, and it is fun for nobody. Covington hangs on Dos Anjos for dear life with three minutes to go to battle. Left kick the body from dos Anjos, and Covington joins again. They differ, with dos Anjos landing a right hand, and Covington lands a body park. Big upper hand just from Covington missing. Dos Anjos goes for a takedown, but it is filled and Covington gets him – guess where – against the fence. They shrink, and both come out swinging big time. Both the hard hooks of the country. Covington eats it harder and tries to go for a takedown but does not get it. Big kick to the body from dos Anjos. End of battle.
Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Round 1: Anderson is coming out fast. She eats a body park from Holm, but quickly it does hurt a bit of stroke directly on the jaw. They tie together, and Anderson lands a nice knee to the clinic. But Holm gets her to the fence and lands some good knees to the rail. Short uppercut lands from Holm. Not a lot of action here because Holm uses his strength and leverage to keep Anderson up against the fence. With two minutes going, Anderson comes out of it. Big right hand misses Anderson, and Holm tries to briefly take a look. They tie back and Anderson goes for a shock, but she can not handle it. Holm is at the top of the side control. Anderson rolls out of it and joins Holm in a body lock from behind when the round ends.
Round 2: Holm's premiere misses. She then shoots for a single leg, and Anderson backs up the fence. She will eventually get out of it. Good right straight from Anderson. Sidmop from Holm, who eats a left hand. Anderson lands two body shots, but Holm turns them quickly to a takedown, and ends in half a half-time. She throws elbows against Anderson's legs, which has damaged a lot in these deadlock. Holm comes out in side control. She comes high on Anderson and couples some big blows to her head. She turns over to mount with a minute to go. Holm tries to clean up and land big shots. She passed an attempt in the arm triangle which seemed to be a sure thing, which is odd. Big bang from Holm from the top but no finish.
Round 3: Anderson is definitely down two rounds, so she needs a finish. She has not landed a good shot since the opening fierce in the first round. Hard body park from Holm. Hard right hand over the top from Anderson, and Holm is shuffled in short. Holm shoots for a takedown, and tries very hard to get it. She gets Anderson against the fence and peeps her again with a short strike against her face and legs. With three minutes to go, Holm spins her around her back and is at the top of the half-guard. Nothing is coming and Anderson comes back to his feet. Holm landes a nice frontspark to the body. Anderson misses a return park by himself. They hold on and Holm gets another trip and lands in the semi-guards. Holm lands some hard elbows to the leg again. She passes to side control with one minute left, and then into full mount 15 seconds later. Holm gets up and throws several big shots, and Anderson tries to move out of it. She comes out of the whole mountain, and Holm goes back to side control. Holm tries a guillotine at the end, but she can not handle it. End of battle – and it should be Holms.
Tai Tuivasa def. Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Round 1: Tuivasa lands two hard legs kicking early and missing with a big upper right. Arlovski keeps his distance early. He tries for a push kick like grazes. Arlovski throws a blow, but Tuivasa catches him and travels him with three minutes to go. Tuivasa is in full booth, but Arlovski has both arms locked. He wants the referee to stand up. After more than a minute, Arlovski succeeds in rolling out of it and standing. Tuivasa lands a fast punch that sends Arlovski to the carpet, but he can come back to his feet. Tuivasa has a bad cut, but it is unclear when it happened. Overhand right from Tuivasa country, and a map directly from Arlovski lands also. Tuivasa tries a high kick, but Arlovski controls it and Tuivasa falls down. Arlovski arrives with another upper hand immediately after they stand and we come to a second round, Tuivasa first ever.
Round 2: Great upper hand right from Arlovski lands after about one minute of nothing in others. They change again, and Arlovski finds Tuivasa chop with his left hand but lacks the follow-up. Left to the body from Tuivasa, which then gets Arlovski up to the fence. Arlovski comes out of it. Both and hard blows – one left from Tuivasa and one right from Arlovski. Big upper hand just from Arlovski misses. Arlovski complains of an eye, the second time he has done it. When playing back, it does not look like a poke, but Tuivasa gets a warning anyway. Backfist lands for Arlovski. Tuivasa misses with two wild hooks like the rounds.
Round 3: The tempo has decreased significantly here in the third and it was already quite slow. Arlovski connects to a nice right-hand left combo. Left straight from Tuivasa. Arlovski gets better from the exchange. With about 1:45 to go, Tuivasa lands some hard shots and pushes Arlovski backwards. He connects hard with several punch combinations, but Arlovski eats the shots. It seems that a tortured elbow from Tuivasa did the most damage there. But Arlovski still moves well. Arlovski misses a spin back first. Left jab from Arlovski. Short right hand from Tuivasa. Arlovski celebrates almost too early and takes a heavy shot. This is interesting to do. Arlovski seems to have done more harm.
Mike Jackson def. CM Punk via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Round 1: Punk comes out with a leg to begin, and he eats a right hand over the top of Jackson. Punk lands with a right hand and gets Jackson up against the fence. The jockey for position against the fence for the next few minutes, with some knees to the body from both strings. Punk landed the better shots, but nobody has a big edge at this time. Punk lands a hard dtraight over the top, then misses a frontspark and an ugly wide haymaker. He shoots for a takedown and it is filled. Punk eats a right hand and bleeds from his nose. Punk gets the roof with 40 seconds in the round. No significant country, and Jackson comes to my feet shortly before the end of the round.
Round 2: Punk eats a pair of hard body shots early in the second. Punk connects with a straight shut fence, but he eats a hard right hand shortly after it makes some damage. Punk is offset, but Jackson does not go for goal. They tie together, and Punk threatens a guillotine attempt. Jackson made a mistake here, but Punk eventually loses it. Jackson is in full swing, and he throws some ground and pound. Punk looks exhausted, and Jackson looks very calm. Punk tries to punch his back, even though his corner does not tell. Jackson continues at the top at the end of the round.
Round 3: They tie up early in the third, with Punk shooting for and missing a takedown. He tries to maintain a body lock to finish the roof, but Jackson ends up at the fence. Punk is dizzying and exhausted at this time. Jackson connects with anice's right hand over the top. Punk shoots for another takedown, and it is filled. Jackson hits him with a big left and takes top position, but he gets up. Punk connects with a sloppy left hand. Right hand from Jackson lands. Punk tries a jumpy knee in the clinic but can not even get high enough for it. They hit the fence again and Jackson wins on top, where he throws single shots, but the fight goes to the judges. This should be three rounds for Jackson, with at least one and maybe two 10-8 rounds.
UFC 225 Full Fight Card Results
Intermediate: Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Welterweight: Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Women's featherweight: Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Heavy weight: Tai Tuivasa def. Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterfikt: Mike Jackson def. CM Punk via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes def. Alistair Overeem TKO (elbows) at 2:56 by Round 3
Women's Strawweight: Cláudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza via split decisions (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Spring weight: Mirsad Bektić def. Ricardo Lama's through shared decisions (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Heavyweight: Chris de la Rocha def. Rashad Coulter via TKO (punch) 3:53 in Round 2
Light Heavyweight: Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans via KO (knee) at 0:53 of Round 1
Flight Weight: Sergio Pettis def. Joseph Benavidez via split decisions (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Lightweight: Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guidance by Guillotine Choke at 2:18 of Round 1
Featherweight: Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago via TKO (punch) at 0:50 in Round 1