CHICAGO — People wouldn’t have blamed middleweight champion Robert Whittaker if he’d decided to not fight after Yoel Romero missed weight on Friday. But, Whittaker said during the week, regardless of what happened, he didn’t fly 22 hours to not compete.
Whittaker showed why he’s the champion, defeating Romero by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) in a non-title affair. Sporting News scored it 48-47 for Whittaker.
“I busted my hand,” Whittaker told Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview. “I cannot feel it up to here. He hits like a truck.”
For the first two rounds, Whittaker made it look easy. But with his right eye nearly swollen shut, Romero came barreling at Whittaker and blasted him with a left, sending him to the mat. To Whittaker’s credit, he survived the round. In the final round and needing a finish to win, Romero gave it everything he had: He rocked Whittaker with a right hook to drop him to the canvas. Romero pounced on Whittaker and tried everything to finish him off, but it was too little too late. Romero felt he did enough to bring home the win.
“It is my humble opinion I did not lose tonight,” Romero told Rogan.
If Romero would have won, the UFC would have had a problem: Having someone defeat the champion when the title isn’t on the line would have forced them to give the 2000 Olympian another opportunity and have to sweat out whether he would make weight.
But, it was all for naught, though it will be interesting to see what’s next for Whittaker (21-4). Kelvin Gastelum or former middleweight champ Chris Weidman are the most viable options. It all depends though on Weidman’s health as he is coming off another thumb surgery. His return is unknown at this point.
(All time Eastern.)
UFC 225 results
1:24 a.m.: Round 5 to Romero (10-9, 48-47 Whittaker). Romero let it all it in the final round. He rocked Whittaker with a right hook and threw everything he had to try and finish it off. But Whittaker somehow survived. These cards can go all over the place.
1:17 a.m.: Round 4 to Whittaker (10-9, 39-37 Whittaker). Until the final moments of the round, Whittaker controlled the entire round, mixing it up with punches and kicks. Romero tried to conserve all of his energy. Romero needs to let it all hang out here if he’s going to win. Wonder what strategy Whittaker will choose to implement.
1:10 a.m.: Round 3 to Romero (10-9, 29-28 Whittaker). Give Romero a ton of credit here. He could have packed it in. Instead, he continued to fight and showed his warrior spirit. He nearly finished Whittaker with a vicious left hand, which sent him crumbling to the mat and moments later, a couple uppercuts rocked him against the cage. Have to credit Whittaker as well though. He fought back with a couple head kicks, wobbling Romero. What a round!
We have a fight in the “Windy City”.
1:04 a.m.: Round 2 to Whittaker (10-9, 20-18 Whittaker). While Romero was more active and landed a couple hard punches, the round belonged to the Australian. He continues to land more shots. What’s impressive is how he keeps mixing it up. Something to watch as the fight goes on is Romero’s right eye is almost swollen shut due to a kick or punch from Whittaker.
12:57 a.m.: Round 1 to Whittaker (10-9). The champion is a man on a mission. His striking is crisp and on point. He’s throwing head kicks, throwing punches to the head and ripping the body. Can see Romero is trying to conserve his energy but needs to be a bit more active in the second round.
12:43 a.m.: It is now time for the main event of UFC 225, in middleweight action, champion Robert Whittaker faces off with No. 1 ranked Yoel Romero. The fight became a non-title affair when Romero missed weight on Friday by .2 pounds.
There were questions whether the fight would go on. But, Whittaker wanted to compete. He didn’t want to waste a 22-hour flight from Australia to Chicago. Will be interesting to see what type of shape and mental focus Romero will have and be in. He was shaking and had to be held upright in trying to walk after his second weigh-in attempt. The UFC has to hope Whittaker wins here as he has nothing to gain and everything to lose. You cannot have Romero win and leave the division in flux.
Colby Covington becomes interim welterweight champion
12:35 a.m.: Covington def. dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) to become the interim welterweight champion. Sporting News had it scored 48-47 for Covington. It was a performance many wouldn’t have expected from Covington. He showed improved striking, which helped setup his takedowns.
Now, we will see Covington face Tyron Woodley for the undisputed title later in the year in what should be some of the best trash talk we have seen in a long time.
12:31 a.m.: Round 5 to Covington (10-9, 48-47 Covington). An exciting final round that Covington was able to win by using his strikes more effectively to help setup his two takedowns. Will it be enough in the eyes of the judges? We go to the scorecards.
12:25 a.m.: Round 4 to dos Anjos (10-9, 38-38). Great job by dos Anjos realizing what he needed to do. But he did it in a way no one would think he would do it in as he took Covington down twice and for more than half the round. Near the end of the round, Covington did gain a little bit of momentum by taking down dos Anjos.
It comes down to the final round. Who wants it more?
12:18 a.m.: Round 3 to Covington (10-9, 29-28 Covington). Covington was the one who made the adjustment. He’s setting up his takedowns by having good enough striking to make dos Anjos guess what he’s going to do next. Now, dos Anjos needs a counter in the fourth.
Both guys have never been to the fourth round at 170 pounds. Let’s see what happens in the all-important championship rounds.
12:11 a.m.: Round 2 to Covington (10-9, 19-19). Even though he was a bloody mess walking back to his corner after the round, Covington went back to what got him here. He got dos Anjos down twice and his striking held up better this round. Whose going to make the first adjustment as we are almost halfway through the fight?
12:05 a.m.: Round 1 to dos Anjos (10-9). After an early takedown from Covington, dos Anjos was able to control the round with the more effective and powerful strikes. Covington needs to get it to the mat or dos Anjos will able to do this all day.
11:50 p.m.: Up next is the co-main event of UFC 225, for the interim welterweight championship as No. 1 ranked Rafael dos Anjos battles No. 4 ranked Colby Covington. dos Anjos, the former lightweight champion is 3-0 since moving to 170 pounds last June. The brash Covington is 8-1 in the UFC.
This has been the fight the fans have been most interested at UFC 225 due to the trash talk by Covington towards dos Anjos, who didn’t fire back until Friday’s weigh-ins as he charged right at Covington.
Did Covington get inside dos Anjos’ head or will the former 155-pound champion be able to maintain his focus?
Holly Holm goes the unlikely route to beat Megan Anderson, earn possible title shot
11:45 p.m.: Holm def. Anderson by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27). Not the performance many expected by Holm. She went the unconventional route in using wrestling to thwart the bigger and stronger gameplan. By far the most complete performance of her storied career.
The question is now: What’s next for Holm? She told Joe Rogan in her post-fight interview she would like the chance to do both, but preferred Nunes. The route to go is Nunes. They have never faced each other and it is the biggest women’s fight that can possibly be made at this point since we just seen Cyborg and Holm six months ago.
11:32 p.m.: Like the strategy employed by Holm. After Anderson rocked her with a vicious knee to begin the first round, Holm kept grinding Anderson against the cage and scored an unexpected takedown. Doing that will wear Anderson down as she hasn’t competed since Jan. 2017.
11:22 p.m.: Coming up at UFC 225, in women’s featherweight action, No. 1 ranked women’s bantamweight and former champion Holly Holm battles Megan Anderson. Holm returns to featherweight after losing her last fight to current 145-pound champion Cris Cyborg at UFC 219. Anderson, the former Invicta FC featherweight champion makes her highly anticipated UFC debut riding a four-fight winning streak.
Anderson is the bigger and stronger fighter, so it will be interesting to see how Holm overcomes those problems. Will Anderson suffer from the famed octagon debut jitters and get past Holm to earn a chance at Cyborg?
Tai Tuivasa beats Andrei Arlovski in slugfest
11:14 p.m.: Tuivasa def. Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). A very close fight, but the judges scored the fight correctly. Tuivasa was the more effective striker in the final two rounds to win the slugfest. Give Tuivasa credit. He never had been out of the first round in his career and went three hard rounds with a former champion. And by the looks of it, Tuivasa could have went another two rounds. I don’t know what Arlovski was doing with about 20 seconds left in the fight. He started the circling the cage and put a finger up in the air like he had won. Never leave it in the hands of the judges.
The win puts Tuivasa in the top ten. Hopefully, the UFC builds him up slowly. He has star potential written all over him. And for those weird people out there who are wondering, yes Tuivasa drank beer out of a fans shoe.
11:01 p.m.: A pretty entertaining first round and it was exactly what we expected. We saw a lot of heavy shots and somehow Arlovski and Tuivasa are still standing and heading to the second.
10:50 p.m.: Up next at UFC 225, in heavyweight action, former heavyweight champion and No. 9 ranked Andrei Arlovski takes on No. 12 ranked Tai Tuivasa. Arlovski is on another career resurgence. After losing four consecutive fights and on the brink of getting released, “The Pit Bull” has won back-to-back fights. Tuivasa has burst onto the scene. He’s undefeated in seven fights (all of them by KO/TKO) including two in the UFC
Like the Overeem versus Blaydes contest earlier, this could be another changing of the guard. Should be a slugfest. Huge ovations for both fighters as they come to the cage.
10:42 p.m.: A video package is currently airing of former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey as she is the next inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame. The ceremony takes place on Thursday, July 5 in Las Vegas during the UFC’s International Fight Week, which is highlighted by UFC 226 on July 7. Rousey, who goes into the modern wing is the first woman to be inducted in UFC history.
Mike Jackson ruins CM Punk’s bid to win an MMA fight
10:36 p.m.: Jackson def. Punk by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26). It was about what we expected. Jackson’s striking experience proved to be too much for the former WWE star. While he showed a lot of heart and fortitude, unfortunately that only gets you so far in MMA. He can be happy with the fact he went three rounds in a fight, but it’s time to hang up the gloves and go back to pro wrestling.
A bruised and battered @CMPunk after losing to Mike Jackson at #UFC225. pic.twitter.com/PYCcjXXZpi
— Steven Muehlhausen (@SMuehlhausenMMA) June 10, 2018
10:22 p.m.: For those who thought this wouldn’t go past the first round, you would have lost your bet. Punk showed better patience, striking was a little more crisp, was more active and secured a takedown. Jackson was confident in being able to pop the jab at will and even bloodied the former pro wrestler. Should be an interesting second round.
10:10 p.m.: Kicking off the main card of UFC 225, in welterweight action, CM Punk faces off against Mike Jackson. In his UFC debut at UFC 203 back in Sept. 2016, Punk was defeated by Mickey Gall via second-round submission. Jackson made his UFC debut in Feb. 2016 and also lost to Gall, but by first-round submission.
Jackson has been calling for this fight the last three years. He’s now got it. What can we expect from the former WWE champion? We are about to find out.
9:58 p.m.: Blaydes def. Overeem by TKO at 2:56 of the third round. What a performance by Blaydes. Getting rocked by hard knee by Overeem and right hand to begin the second round woke Blaydes up and he kicked into high gear. His wrestling was on point and showed good ground and pound punches in the second round. The third round was all Blaydes. With Overeem against the fence, Blaydes connected on a beautiful eight-punch combination and took Overeem down to the mat.
*WARNING* This KO may ruin your appetite. pic.twitter.com/bgZDKZeXs2
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) June 10, 2018
The fight got to the feet and Blaydes took Overeem down again. Then, a vicious elbow rocked Overeem and Blaydes blasted Overeem with four sharp elbows in a row and the fight was stopped.
That was Blaydes’ biggest win of his career. In the biggest moment of his life, he delivered and then some. He called out the winner of the heavyweight title fight at UFC 226 between champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. There’s no denying him at this point. He’s beaten two of the best in the division and finished off a former title challenger.
9:45 p.m.: Much to the dismay of the Chicago crowd, Blaydes used his wrestling to take Overeem down to the mat in what was otherwise a lackluster first round, Overeem needs to let it go a little bit more.
9:36 p.m.: In the featured preliminary bout of UFC 225, in heavyweight action, No. 2 ranked Alistair Overeem battles No. 4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion looks to rebound after suffering a vicious knockout to Francis Ngannou at UFC 218. In his most recent outing, Blaydes earned the biggest win of his career in dominating Mark Hunt to win by unanimous decision at UFC 221 to score his third consecutive win.
This is the classic grappler versus striker matchup. Whoever can implement their strategy will emerge victorious.
9:30 p.m.: Gadelha def. Esparza by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28). Very tough fight to score. Gadelha won the second round and Esparza won the third. It comes down to how you view the first. Do you value the knockdown that nearly finished Gadelha or the near submission by Gadelha at the end of the round? The crowd booed the decision loudly as they felt Esparza had done enough.
It definitely lived up to the billing. The best of the night so far and we have six more to go.
9:16 p.m: Highly entertaining first round. Each woman had their moments. Esparza nearly knocked Gadelha out with a straight right hand and Gadelha nearly finished Esparza with an inverted choke at the end of the round. A back-and-forth fight, which is exactly what I expected.
9:05 p.m.: Up next at UFC 225, in women’s strawweight action, No. 3 ranked Claudia Gadelha faces off with Carla Esparza. While regarded as one of the best in the world at 115 pounds, Gadelha’s been shaky in her last four fights, going 2-2. After losing her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185 in Mar. 2015, Esparza has gone 3-1. Esparza and Gadelha have been in a war of words for the last five years saying they are the better than the other. Each female thinks they are the better fighter. These are two of the best in the division. Should be a great fight.
8:58 p.m.: Bektic def. Lamas by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28). Another judge who had a 30-27 when it should have been a 29-28. The constant pressure and controlling the striking exchanges brought home the victory for Bektic. With a record of 6-1 in the featherweight and beating a top ten foe, Bektic should move into the top ten. Have to wonder what is next for Lamas as he’s 2-3 in his last five.
8:45 p.m.: An intriguing fight halfway through. No one has an advantage on the feet and Bektic has a narrow advantage after securing a takedown late in the first round. Someone needs to separate themselves from the pack in the final seven-and-half minutes.
8:33 p.m.: Coming up next at UFC 225, in featherweight action, No. 7 ranked Ricardo Lamas battles No. 11 ranked Mirsad Bektic. Lamas, a former 145-pound title challenger has been inconsistent in his last four fights, going 2-2. Bektic is a rising contender in the division since he entered the UFC in 2014, sporting a record of 5-1 with three wins by stoppage.
You have the new lion trying to take the position of the old lion. A very intriguing fight at 145 pounds.
8:20 p.m.: De la Rocha def. Coulter by TKO at 3:53 of the second round. After seeing one of the best rounds of the year, the second was one of the worst. After connecting on a right hand, de la Rocha took Coulter down to the mat and took his back immediately. He would throw punches that had little pop due to his arms being heavy.. Coulter had no idea how to defend the punches and looked lost out there. He didn’t know how to roll over onto his back or try to escape the position. Finally, de la Rocha mustered four punches in a row and thankfully the referee had seen enough.
8:13 p.m.: Well, I was wrong. An unbelievable first round. Don’t know how Coulter and de la Rocha are standing. Throwing heavy bombs one after another. Shows how much heart they both have and how bad they really want. And we could still have two rounds of this. Buckle in and sit on the edge of your seat.
8:03 p.m.: Up next at UFC 225, in heavyweight action, Rashad Coulter fights Chris de la Rocha. After entering the UFC on a five-fight winning streak, Coulter has lost both of fights inside the octagon by knockout. de la Rocha nearly had the same streak as Coulter. He had a four-fight winning streak coming into the UFC and has lost both of his fights, but via TKO.
These are the heavyweights and they have both been stopped in the past, so expect an early stoppage.
7:49 p.m.: We have a little lull in the action until the top of the hour. Go the bathroom and grab some refreshments and stay locked in to our live UFC 225 coverage from the United Center.
7:40 p.m.: Smith def. Evans by knockout at 0:53 of the first round. Evans and Smith were battling in the clinch against the cage when Smith landed a flush knee. While Evans was on a his way down, Smith landed a short right hand and the fight was over.
Without a doubt, the biggest win of Smith’s career. What does Evans do at this point? Losing five consecutive bouts gets you the pink slip. Evans has nothing else to prove. He’s a former light heavyweight champion, headlined some of the biggest cards in UFC history and is financially secure. Hopefully, he makes the right decision and hangs up the gloves.
LIONHEART! ?@LionheartSmith puts an EXCLAMATION point on the @UFCFightPass prelims. #UFC225 pic.twitter.com/GCm8lMovGj
— UFC (@ufc) June 9, 2018
7:32 p.m.: Coming up next at UFC 225, in light heavyweight action, former champion Rashad Evans takes on Anthony Smith. Think about this for a moment. Evans is doing something he’s never done in his career, fought on the prelims. He’s coming in fighting for his life, losing four in a row. Smith had three-fight winning streak snapped in February to Thiago Santos by second-round TKO. This is a fight Evans should win. But what does he have left at 38 years of age?
7:25 p.m.: Pettis def. Benavidez by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28). It all came down to the third round. It appeared Benavidez had done enough to win the round. He was the aggressor and controlled the pace, but Pettis turned it on in the final 30 seconds with a beautiful spin kick and a couple right hands. Don’t know what the judge was thinking with a 30-27 score for Pettis as Benavidez clearly won the second round. Let’s hope that isn’t an indication for the rest of the evening if a fight goes to the hands of the judges.
A very dejected Benavidez. #UFC225 pic.twitter.com/QwVJQ530OX
— Steven Muehlhausen (@SMuehlhausenMMA) June 9, 2018
7:18 p.m.: Not a fan of the gameplan Pettis has decided to employ. He had Benavidez exhausted after the first round. Instead of taking advantage of the situation and continuing to push the action, he’s let Benavidez back into the fight and dictate the pace.
7:10 p.m.: Great action in the first round. Pettis nearly finished Benavidez, dropping him with a thunderous right hand. Realizing he was in some trouble, Benavidez took Pettis down to the mat to catch his breath. Benavidez showed better striking than we have ever seen from him. Pettis gained more confidence after the takedown and has forced Benavidez to fight his style.
6:59 p.m.: Up next at UFC 225, in flyweight action, No. 1 Joseph Benavidez battles No. 5 Sergio Pettis. Benavidez returns to action for the first time in 18 months after suffering a torn ACL. Pettis had his four-fight winning streak snapped by Henry Cejudo at UFC 218. Coming in, Benavidez has won six consecutive fights. Will he show any cage rust? If not, this should be a great one and the first fight to not end in the first round.
6:53 p.m.: UFC officials have announced Demetrious Johnson will defend his flyweight title against Henry Cejudo at UFC 227 on Aug. 4. Johnson beat Cejudo by first-round stoppage at UFC 197 in April 2016.
6:43 p.m.: Oliveira def. Guida by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:18 of the first round. A very big win for Oliveira. He showed surprising striking prowess as his jiu-jitsu is his forte. Oliveira caused severe swelling in Guida’s right eye, nearly swelling it shut. Needing a change of momentum, Guida tried to take Oliveira down to the mat. But “Da Bronx” quickly snatched Guida’s and secured the deep choke. Guida tapped instantly. The submission ties Oliveira with Royce Gracie for the most submissions in UFC history, with 10.
LIGHTNING QUICK IN CHI-TOWN.
Oliveira forces the tap in round one.
Catch the action LIVE NOW https://t.co/eLpsj7wVJ7 #UFC225 pic.twitter.com/VKS4ABnKO4
— UFC (@ufc) June 9, 2018
6:34 p.m.: Up next at UFC 225, in lightweight action, Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira. Guida comes in on a little bit of a roll, having won back-to-back fights. Oliveira comes in on a loss to Paul Felder by second-round TKO at UFC 218. Originally, Guida was supposed to fight Bobby Green. But the latter pulled out two weeks ago due to injury and Oliveira stepped up to the plate. Loud ovation for the hometown Guida and thunderous boos for Oliveira. If this is any indication, this crowd is going to be electric all night long.
6:27 p.m.: Ige def. Santiago by TKO at 0:50 of the first round. Ige pressured Santiago from the outset. He threw everything and anything at Santiago. An overhand right to the side of Santiago’s head, sent him packing to the mat. From there, Ige got Santiago’s back and connected on a barrage of punches until the referee had seen enough. It was the first UFC victory for Ige.
WELL THAT WAS FAST!@DynamiteDan808 DOMINATES IN THE FIRST BOUT OF #UFC225.
Watch on @UFCFightPass. pic.twitter.com/9UrhQWfK39
— UFC (@ufc) June 9, 2018
6:20 p.m.: Kicking off UFC 225 in featherweight action, Mike Santiago takes on Dan Ige. Santiago, a Chicago native, is in desperate need of a win. He has lost both of his UFC fights to Zabit Magomedsharipov and most recently to Mads Burnell at UFC Fight Night 124. Ige made his UFC debut back in January at UFC 220. He lost to Julio Arce by unanimous decision.
5:40 p.m.: Under 40 minutes until we begin tonight’s UFC 225.
My seat for the night as I’m live @UnitedCenter covering tonight’s #UFC225. Follow me all night long via @SportingNews as the live card begins in about 40 minutes: https://t.co/3dgWnyo6cC pic.twitter.com/FhrBLWAPv7
— Steven Muehlhausen (@SMuehlhausenMMA) June 9, 2018
3:37 p.m.: We are inching closer to the beginning of UFC 225. Here’s the final episode of “UFC Embedded,” which features the official and ceremonial weigh-ins.
UFC 225 fight card
- Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero, split decision
- Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos, unanimous decision, for interim Welterweight championship
- Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson, unanimous decision
- Tai Tuivasa def. Andrei Arlovski, unanimous decision
- Mike Jackson def. CM Punk, unanimous decision
- Curtis Blaydes def. Alistair Overeem, third-round TKO
- Mirsad Bektić def. Ricardo Lamas, split decision
- Sergio Pettis def. Joseph Benavidez, split decision
- Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guida, first-round submission
- Cláudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza, split decision
- Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans, first-round KO
- Chris De La Rocha def. Rashad Coulter, second-round TKO
- Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago, first-round TKO
UFC 225 latest news
— Yoel Romero misses weight and can no longer battle for middleweight title.
— Robert Whittaker tells Sporting News why he was “very distraught” after UFC 221 pullout.
— Mike Jackson explains to SN that facing CM Punk is like winning the lottery.
— Want to watch UFC 225? Here’s everything you need to know about the event.
— CM Punk tells SN winning his first MMA fight will mean more than first WWE title.
— SN got a chance to be inside fight week with Whittaker’s head coach.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. Subscribe to his You Tube channel here . You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA .