MMA fans almost made it to a UFC Main Event with no controversy, that is until Yoel Romero missed weight – by 90 grams – throwing Aussie Robert Whittaker’s first title defence into question. Despite the setback, all five scheduled events went ahead, with all going the distance.
The Australians went 2-1 in the main event with Tai Tuivasa and Whittaker both claiming hard-fought decision victories. Unfortunately, Australia’s Megan Anderson was not successful in her UFC debut against former Women’s bantamweight champion Holy Holm. CM punk fell short against Mike Jackson in a predictable decision loss, while Colby Covington shocked many with a decisive victory over Rafael Dos Anjos
UFC 225, undoubtedly had some exciting moment and was a great showcase of Australian MMA talent, though one couldn’t help feel a little underwhelmed overall.
Much like CM Punk’s first octagon performance this fight went as expected. It felt like the opener of a local amateur card with neither fighter showing anything spectacular – slow paced and sloppy technique. Punk managed to score a take down late the first round but didn’t show much else, except for a lot of heart. Jackson looked a little too calm coasting to an easy decision, despite having Punk in compromising positions at multiple times during the fight. Fight fans weren’t expecting a ‘Fight Of The Night’, and they weren’t disappointed.
It wasn’t the dominant performance Australian fans were hoping for, but Western Sydney’s Tai Tuivasa still put on a show against the former champion, Andre Arlovski. The first round was fireworks with Tuivasa, and Arlovski both landing some heavy shots. Arlovski ended up on the canvas after a big right from Tuivasa, and the Australian finished the round bleeding from a cut received in one of the scrambles. The next two rounds remained close with Tuivasa just abe to keep ahead of Arlovski on the scorecards. It was the first time Tuivasa has been taken outside of the first round, and by far the biggest win of his young career.
Megan Anderson came out strong, finding some early success with outside strikes. However, as soon as Holy Holm started to implement takedowns early in the first, Anderson seemed out of her depth. Unable to prevent being taken down and looking lost on the floor, all Anderson could do was hold on. Though close, Holm was unable to finish Anderson taking the fight to a unanimous decision victory, with two judges giving Holm a 10-8 round.
Covington answered a lot of questions when he shut down the game of surging welterweight and former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos. Dos Anjos put together some clean long combos, landing the counter right uppercut all throughout round one, but looked exhausted trying to keep Covington from smothering him. Covington took some seriously big body shots, in the form of knees, body rips and kicks although nothing slowed down his relentless pace forward – neutralizing Dos Anjos at nearly every encounter. Covington’s shots and takedown attempts weren’t necessarily accurate but they didn’t allow RDA time to breathe. The Brazilian managed to complete two takedowns early in the fourth, putting together his best round of the fight. However, Covington finished strong in the fifth round to take the uniramous decision.
In the most exciting fight of the night, Robert Whittaker was able to defeat Yoel Romero for the second time in another close match between the two competitors. Romero appeared inactive in the opening round throwing only a couple of punches in the first few minutes, leaving Whittaker to breezes through the first. Round two was closer with Romero starting off strong and Whittaker showing once again his division-best takedown defence. Whitaker ended the second with a stinging lead left that closed the right eye of Romero. In Round three Whittaker was sent to the canvas early but managed to recover after a minute or two to fire back with three straight vicious elbows. Both men barely made it to the end of the third. The fourth and fifth rounds saw the momentum shift back and forth as both athletes emptied the gas tank. Whittaker and Romero let their hands fly rocking each other on several occasions eating knees, hands and right high kicks. Both men finished the final round on their feet, yet visibly exhausted. In the end, Whittaker managed to edge out over Romero putting a potential third match in doubt.