Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty)
If you’ve been taking a hiatus from ordering the Ultimate Fighting Championship on pay-per-view, this is the weekend to round up your friends to pitch in for a viewing party.
UFC 225, which takes place at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday night, offers one of the promotion’s deepest lineups — from top to bottom — in recent memory. At the top of the bill, Robert Whittaker defends his middleweight title against Yoel Romero in a rematch of a July 2017 bout that Whittaker won by decision despite injuring his leg early on. Whittaker is favored — -240 according to online oddsmaker Bovada — to repeat the feat in the rematch against “The Soldier of God,” who is coming off a massive knockout victory over former champion Luke Rockhold.
More gold is on the line in the co-main event, as Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington square off for the interim welterweight title. Dos Anjos, the former 155-pound champion, has won three in a row since moving up to 170 pounds and is listed as a slight -120 favorite. Covington has been victorious in eight of his nine UFC appearances, but has gained more attention for his outspoken persona, which includes calling dos Anjos and an entire nation of Brazilians “filthy animals.” The winner of the bout figures to be set up for a future matchup with reigning welterweight king Tyron Woodley somewhere down the line.
The rest of the pay-per-view main card, which begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, provides plenty of intrigue. Holly Holm will meet Megan Anderson in a women’s featherweight contest, and the victor could very well be slated for a showdown with the 145-pound queen, Brazilian wrecking machine Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Meanwhile, former professional wrestling star CM Punk, aka Phil Brooks, will make his second Octagon foray against fighter/journalist Mike Jackson. Finally, ex-heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski will attempt show he has more left in the tank against rising knockout artist Tai Tuivasa, a training partner of Mark Hunt.
Those who don’t usually tune in early for the preliminary card might want to reconsider for UFC 225. The Fox Sports 1-televised prelims feature a pivotal heavyweight bout between former title challenger Alistair Overeem and rising prospect Curtis Blaydes. Additionally, Claudia Gadelha will square off against Carla Esparza in a battle of top strawweight contenders, while former featherweight No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas tries to slow the rise of prospect Mirsad Bektic. The FS1 portion of the prelims begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
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Finally, the UFC Fight Pass card, beginning at 6:15 p.m. ET/3:15 p.m. PT, should not be overlooked. The featured bout, a flyweight pairing pitting Joseph Benavidez against Sergio Pettis, has serious title implications and could easily headline a UFC Fight Night event. The Fight Pass prelims also feature the return of former champ Rashad Evans, who looks to halt a four-bout skid in his return to light heavyweight against Anthony Smith. Also worth watching is a lightweight scrap between the fan favorite Clay Guida and Brazilian submission specialist Charles Oliveira.
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