Robert Whittaker took a five-round split decision over Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 on Saturday. It was a close bout, with both fighters taking and delivering huge shots and running mostly out of gas by the time the fourth and fifth rounds came around.
Whittaker remains the UFC Middleweight Champion, but would have anyway due to Romero missing weight for the contest.
The first time Whittaker and Romero fought, it was for the interim belt at middleweight, but Romero missed weight and became ineligible to win the title, meaning only Whittaker could win it. He did, and was eventually promoted to undisputed champion.
Saturday’s rematch was originally scheduled to be a title defense for Whittaker, but Romero missed weight again and it wound up being a non-title bout. But Whittaker got the win, so the division wasn’t thrown into further chaos.
Whittaker started out with the clear edge on Romero, throwing more strikes, being more aggressive and generally controlling the action. He took the first round and perhaps at least one of the next two, but ate a huge shot that rocked him and gave Romero, who was out of breath at the time, new life.
Romero seemed way out of it throughout the entire fight, but had moments where he exploded outward and did some serious damage to Whittaker. The rounds that Romero arguably won were very close, while the rounds that Whittaker definitely won weren’t close at all.
In the co-main event, Colby Covington won the interim UFC Welterweight Championship with a unanimous decision win over Rafael dos Anjos. It was a high-paced fight, but one that Covington primarily won due to octagon control for all but the fourth round. He didn’t do much damage to dos Anjos, but he held him against the fence plenty and the pressure he kept on was enough to sway the judges.
Covington will now, presumably, fight Tyron Woodley to unify the belts whenever Woodley is ready. The champ has said he plans to be ready in August, which might be too soon of a turnaround for Covington, so we’ll see how that goes.
Also in main card action, Holly Holm dominated Megan Anderson in a women’s featherweight contest. Holm landed more strikes, hit four takedowns, and looked like she could go three more rounds when the fight went to the judges. Anderson looked overmatch above all else. Holm officially won the contest via unanimous decision, with two judges giving her a 30-26.
The main card opened with the MMA return of former WWE superstar CM Punk, in just his second bout ever. The first was a first-round submission loss at the hands of Mickey Gall, which was the same fate suffered by Punk’s UFC 225 opponent, Mike Jackson, in his first bout. Saturday’s bout was each fighter’s second match, after losing their first in nearly identical fashion.
Unfortunately for Punk, he didn’t look great. He looked tired by the middle of the second round, and was clearly out-classed standing. He was able to get a couple takedowns, but couldn’t do anything with them and lost a three-round unanimous decision.
In the ensuing bout, veteran Andrei Arlovski took Tai Tuivasa out of the first round for the first time in the Australian’s career. The fight went the distance, and was very close, though the judges gave the bout to Tuivasa by unanimous decision.
On the preliminary card, there were three different split decisions, but also five finishes. Rashad Evans, the biggest name on said undercard, was knocked out by Anthony Smith in the first round. Charles Oliveira scored a huge submission victory (guillotine choke) over Clay Guida, while Sergio Pettis was on the winning end of one of the aforementioned split decisions over Joseph Benavidez.
On the FS1 preliminary card, Curtis Blaydes earned an intense and violent TKO victory over Alistair Overeem in the third round of a heavyweight bout. Blaydes cut Overeem with huge elbows on the ground, and there was no recovering for the latter. Cláudia Gadelha also bested Carla Esparza via split decision, as did Mirsad Bektić over Ricardo Lamas.
Below, you can see the play-by-play as it happened from the main card, and below that is the full list of results for the entire UFC 225 fight card.
Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Round 1: Whittaker starts out with a short leg kick, then a right overhand that doesn’t connect. Big kick to the body from Whittaker lands. Overhand left from Romero just grazes Whittaker. Massive, massive haymaker from Romero misses as Whittaker ducks under. Shin kick from Whittaker. Straight right from Whittaker gets throw the guard. Straight left does the same. Romero is very passive right now. Head kick from Whittaker is blocked. Spinning back fist from Romero just misses. Not much happens as the round ends.
Round 2: Romero coming out with a weird stance, his left elbow far out there. He eats three big body kicks from Whittaker. Leg kick from Whittaker as he spins away from a Romero hook. Left straight from Whittaker lands. Leg kick from Romero, followed by a big combo from Whittaker. Serious, serious swelling under the right eye of Romero. Romero lands a decent hook, but he’s scrambling at this point. Whittaker is staying out the way of dangerous strikes. Two left straights 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 mat. Whittaker scrambles to get away, backing up, running, and Romero is trying to finish him. But Whittaker ties up against the fence and may have recovered … until he eats ah ard right uppercut from Romero that staggers him. Whittaker responds with a huge left elbow of his own that puts Romero down to one knee, then a right elbow as Romero stands up. Romero connects with a big hook, but they tie up again with three minutes to go. Whittaker was nearly done for there. If he can survive, it’s likely Romero’s gas tank will be empty. In between those elbows, Romero also landed a nice uppercut. Both men slow things down against the fence. Romero is taking deep, deep breaths. Romero tries to a takedown, but doesn’t get it. Whittaker lands a left straight, and Romero lands one of his own, flush on the chin. Whittaker is back up against the fence again, and Romero starts teeing off. Huge winding hooks that do damage, but Whittaker gets away. He lands a hard head kick click, but Romero walks through it. Still a minute to go! They’re tied up against the fence. Whittaker switches out and gets Romero’s back against it. Round ends with both fighters taking HUGE deep breaths.
Round 4: Into the championship rounds despite Romero not eligible for a championship. Left straight from Whittaker lands. Low kick from Whittaker is perhaps too low, and Romero is probably going to take as much time as he can here. They resume after a couple minutes. Whittaker lands a straight kick to the body, and Romero blocks a follow-up head kick. Romero throws a flurry, but Whittaker ducks it. Whittaker lands three successive left jabs on the swollen right eye of Romero. Another front kick to the body from Whittaker lands hard. Romero hasn’t had much offense in this round. He’s having trouble connecting with anything. He does get a nice punch to the body in. Near the end of the round, Romero lands with a pair of hooks that do some damage, but he can’t follow-up on them. Should be a Whittaker round, still.
Round 5: Heavy spinning kick to the body from Romero. Whittaker goes in for another shin kick and Romero again wings a spinning back fist that just misses. Hard jab from Whittaker lands. Short jumping kick from Romero is blocked by Whittaker. Romero is coming forward like he knows he needs a finish. He’s swinging big but not landing anything big until Whittaker gets careless turning his back to Romero, something he’s done multiple times this fight. Romero connects a hard punch right around on the jaw while Whittaker was circling away, and Whittaker goes down. Romero swarms, going for the finish, and is into sprawl position. Whittaker tries to get back to the fence, while Romero is throwing punches from the top. None of them are especially hard, but Whittaker is still in real danger here. He gets to his feet and eats a knee from Romero, who then trips him. Whittaker back to his feet, and is tripped again. Romero hanging onto his back. They’re both exhausted. Hard knees to the thigh from Romero, who trips Whittaker again, but again he’s right back up. A minute to go, with Romero holding onto Whittaker’s back. Referee steps in and separates them with 35 seconds to go. Both fighters bouncing up and down like they can go another five rounds — they can’t. Romero tries a wheel kick but misses. Both go for head kicks, but they block eachother. Fight ends!
Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Round 1: They’re both immediately throwing heavy, and scramble into a takedown for Covington. He gets dos Anjos against the fence. He drops him for a takedown, but dos Anjos pops right back up. Good knee to the body from dos Anjos. Covington connects with a left hand. Left hook plus a stiff right straight land flush for dos Anjos. Covington presses him against the fence again. Good knee to the body from dos Anjos. Head kick just grazes for Covington. Hard body kick from dos Anjos. Hard shot to the body from dos Anjos stumbles Covington. Hard left from Covington misses. Covington tries for another takedown against the fence, and eats a big knee to the body. Hard right hand and then ak nee to the body from dos Anjos, as Covington scrambles again for another takedown. Two leg kicks from Covington land. Right hand lands flush for dos Anjos, then a front kick down the middle, then a hard leg kick. Covington walks through all of it, but is landing nothing of his own. Covington misses a spinning backfist, and lands a couple short leg kicks. Covington gets dos Anjos against the fence with 10 seconds to go, and the round ends. This was dos Anjos’ round, easily.
Round 2: Covington tries a head kick, but it’s blocked, then he throws a fast, sloppy flurry that turns into a takedown, same as the start of the first round. Dos Anjos pops back up though, his back against the fence. Good inside elbow from Covington. Crowd delivers a loud “Colby sucks!” chant because they’ve bought into Covington’s racist trash talk. They’re off the fence. Leg kick 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 land. Uppercut misses from Covington. Right hand over the top lands, then a left uppercut clips dos Anjos, and it might be his best shot of the fight. Back against the fence, Covington looking for the takedown. Left hook from dos Anjos lands as they separate. Covington manages to catch dos Anjos off-balance and takes his back against the fence. Dos Anjos gets back to standing pretty quickly. This was probably Covington’s round, but it was close.
Round 3: Covington eats a left underhand, but gets dos Anjos against the fence again. Dos Anjos walks out of it and lands a knee to the body, but is quickly back up against the fence again. They separate, and a kick to the body from Covington lands, as does a straight right from Covington. Covington is certainly more active, and he’s controlling dos Anjos against the fence, but he’s not really doing any damage. Low blow from Covington and the ref stops the action for a brief time. They’re against the fence again, and when they separate, Covington does connect with two hardp unches before pressing dos Anjos against the fence again. Left hook from Covington lands, and he tries for a takedown. He doesn’t get it, but we do get a lot more action against the fence. Two lefts from Covington, and two knees from dos Anjos. Covington talks trash as the round ends.
Round 4: Dos Anjos lands a hard, hard left hand right out of the gate in the fourth. He blocks ah ead kick from Covington, then lands a nice shot to the body. Covington misses two winging hooks. Right uppercut from dos Anjos lands, and Covington tries for another takedown. He doesn’t get it. Dos Anjos, though, shoots for his own takedown and gets it. He winds up in sprawl position, maybe looking for a front choke. Covington gets back standing, and has dos Anjos against the fence. But dos Anjos comes back, and shoots for his own takedown again, and gets it. Covington tries to walk the fence, and he eats some hard knees to the thighs. Covington gets back standing, but dos Anjos drags him down again. Eventually, they get standing and dos Anjos lands a nice right straight. Covington manages to push him against the fence again, but it’s brief. Dos Anjos shoots for another takedown, and doesn’t get it. Good right straight from Covington lands, and then a counter right on the follow-up from dos Anjos, and now more fence. Big leg kick from dos Anjos. Covington throws a big flurry, nothing big landing, but he does get a single leg and drags dos Anjos down to the ground. This might be at two rounds apiece.
Round 5: Should be even going into the fifth. Covington starts the round the same way, getting dos Anjos against the fence and trying for a takedown. He throws some knees to the thighs of dos Anjos. Covington just misses a superman punch, and dos Anjos just misses a flying knee. Covington gets a brief takedown, but dos Anjos gets to his feet. Covington throws two short kicks to the body to close the distance, and dos Anjos ends up against the fence again. He’s not going to win if he continues to allow this. He has to separate, otherwise this fight will be won almost entirely on control against the fence, and that’s fun for nobody. Covington is hanging onto dos Anjos for dear life with three minutes to go in the fight. Left kick to the body from dos Anjos, and Covington ties up again. They separate, with dos Anjos landing a right hand, and Covington landing a body kick. Big overhand right from Covington misses. Dos Anjos goes for a takedown, but it’s stuffed and Covington gets him — guess where — against the fence. They scramble, and both come out swinging big time. Both land hard hooks. Covington eats the harder one and tries to go for a takedown, but doesn’t get it. Big kick to the body from dos Anjos. End of fight.
Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Round 1: Anderson comes out fast. She eats a body kick from Holm, but quickly does some damage with a flurry of punches right on the jaw. They tie up, and Anderson lands a nice knee to the clinch. But Holm gets her against the fence, and lands some good knees to the shin. Short uppercut lands from Holm. Not a whole lot of action here as Holm is using her strength and leverage to keep Anderson up against the fence. With two minutes go, Anderson gets out of it. Big right hand misses from Anderson, and Holm briefly tries a takedown. They tie up again and Anderson is going for a choke, but she doesn’t get it. Holm ends up on top in side control. Anderson rolls out of it and ties up Holm in a body lock from behind as the round ends.
Round 2: Front kick from Holm misses. She then shoots for a single-leg takedown, and Anderson backs up into the fence. She eventually gets out of it. Good right straight from Anderson. Side kick from Holm, who eats a left hand. Anderson lands two body shots, but Holm quickly turns them into a takedown, and ends up in a partial half guard. She throws elbows against Anderson’s legs, which have taken a lot of damage in these stalemate positions. Holm gets out into side control. She gets high up on Anderson, and connects with some big punches to the head. She transitions to mount with a minute to go. Holm tries to posture up and land big shots. She passed up an arm triangle attempt that seemed like a sure thing, which is odd. Big punches from Holm from the top, but no finish.
Round 3: Anderson is definitely down two rounds, so she needs a finish. She hasn’t landed a good shot since the opening flurry in the first round. Hard body kick from Holm. Hard right hand over the top from Anderson, and Holm is staggered briefly. Holm shoots for a takedown, and tries very hard to get it. She gets Anderson against the fence, and again peppers her with short strikes to the face and the legs. With three minutes to go, Holm spins her around onto her back, and is on top in half guard. Nothing comes of it though and Anderson gets back to her feet. Holm lands a nice front kick to the body. Anderson misses with a return kick of her own. They tie up and Holm gets another trip, landing in half guard. Holm lands some hard elbows to the leg again. She transitions to side control with a minute left, and then into full mount 15 seconds later. Holm postures up and throws several big shots, and Anderson tries to roll out of it. She gets out of the full mount, and Holm goes back to side control. Holm tries a guillotine at the end, but she doesn’t get it. End of fight — and it should be Holm’s.
Tai Tuivasa def. Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Round 1: Tuivasa landing two hard leg kicks early, and misses with a big overhand right. Arlovski is keeping his distance early. He tries for a push kick that grazes. Arlovski throws a punch, but Tuivasa catches him, and trips him with three minutes to go. Tuivasa ends up in full mount, though Arlovski has both his arms locked tight. He wants a referee stand-up. After more than a minute of this, Arlovski manages to roll out of it and they get standing. Tuivasa lands a quick punch that sends Arlovski to the mat, but he is able to get back to his feet. Tuivasa has a bad cut, but it’s unclear when it happened. Overhand right from Tuivasa lands, and a short right from Arlovski also lands. Tuivasa tries a high kick, but Arlovski checks it and Tuivasa falls down. Arlovski comes forward with another overhand right after they get standing, and we’re going to a second round, Tuivasa’s first ever.
Round 2: Big overhand right from Arlovski lands after about a minute of nothing in the second. They exchange again, and Arlovski finds Tuivasa’s chin with the left hand, but misses the follow-up. Left to the body from Tuivasa, who then gets Arlovski up against the fence. Arlovski gets out of it. Both and hard punches — a left from Tuivasa and a right from Arlovski. Huge overhand right from Arlovski misses. Arlovski complains of an eye poke, the second time he’s done so. On replay, it doesn’t look like much of a poke, but Tuivasa gets a warning anyway. Backfist lands for Arlovski. Tuivasa misses with two wild hooks as the round ends.
Round 3: The pace has slowed considerably here in the third, and it was already pretty slow. Arlovski connects with a nice right-left combo. Left straight from Tuivasa. Arlovski is getting the better of the exchanges. With about 1:45 to go, Tuivasa lands some hard shots and pushes Arlovski backward. He connects hard with multiple punch combos, but Arlovski eats the shots. Looks like an overhand elbow from Tuivasa did the most damage there. But Arlovski is still moving around well. Arlovski misses a spinning back first. Left jab from Arlovski. Short right overhand from Tuivasa. Arlovski nearly celebrates too early and takes a heavy shot. This one will be interesting to score. Arlovski seems to have done more damage.
Mike Jackson def. CM Punk via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Round 1: Punk comes out with a leg kick to start, and he eats a right hand over the top from Jackson. Punk lands with a right hand of his own and gets Jackson up against the fence. They jockey for position against the fence for the next couple minutes, with some knees to the body from both fighters. Punk landed the better shots, but nobody has a big edge at this point. Punk lands a hard dtraight over the top, then misses with a front kick and an ugly, wide haymaker. He shoots for a takedown and it’s stuffed. Punk eats a right hand and is bleeding from the nose. Punk gets the takedown with 40 seconds in the round. Nothing significant lands and Jackson gets to his feet shortly before the end of the round.
Round 2: Punk eats a couple hard body shots early in the second. Punk connects with a straight left off the fence, but he eats a hard right hand shortly after that does some real damage. Punk is staggered, but Jackson doesn’t go for the finish. They tie up, and Punk threatens a guillotine attempt. Jackson made a mistake here, but Punk eventually loses it. Jackson ends up in full guard, and he’s throwing some ground-and-pound. Punk looks exhausted, and Jackson looks very calm. Punk is trying to punch from his back, despite his corner saying not to. Jackson remains on top through 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 takedown, but Jackson gets him up against the fence. Punk is staggering and exhausted at this point. Jackson connects with anice right hand over the top. Punk shoots for another takedown, and it’s stuffed. Jackson hits him with a big left and takes top position, but he stands up. Punk connects with a sloppy left hand. Right hand from Jackson lands. Punk tries a jumping knee in the clinch but can’t even get high enough for it. They get against the fence again and Jackson winds up on top, where he throws the occasional shot, 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
Middleweight: Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Welterweight: Colby Covington def. Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Women’s Featherweight: Holly Holm def. Megan Anderson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa def. Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: 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 of Round 3
Women’s Strawweight: Cláudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Featherweight: Mirsad Bektić def. Ricardo Lamas via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Heavyweight: Chris de la Rocha def. Rashad Coulter via TKO (punches) at 3:53 in Round 2
Light Heavyweight: Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans via KO (knee) at 0:53 of Round 1
Flyweight: Sergio Pettis def. Joseph Benavidez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Lightweight: Charles Oliveira def. Clay Guida via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:18 of Round 1
Featherweight: Dan Ige def. Mike Santiago via TKO (punches) at 0:50 in Round 1