MMA Review: #645: UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero II

-This was clearly 2018’s most loaded card thus far, with big names up and down the card – you know it’s stacked when the likes of Alistair Overeem, Claudia Gadelha and Ricardo Lamas are on the prelims after all! The presence of CM Punk on the PPV card was an annoyance to some of course but shit, the dude popped a buyrate last time out so why not.

UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero II

06/06/18
Chicago, Illinois

-Your hosts are Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Jimmy Smith.

Welterweight Fight: CM Punk vs Michael Jackson

So yeah, after his disastrous MMA debut against Mickey Gall in September 2016 nobody really expected Punk back in the Octagon, but surprisingly enough the UFC decided to book him again – this time in his hometown against Jackson, who had looked equally bad in his own fight with Gall in February 2016 and hadn’t fought since. Despite Jackson looking terrible there I couldn’t pick Punk again in good conscience.

Round One begins and the crowd are hot for Punk at least. He throws out a couple of low kicks early on before eating a jab and a right hand. Takedown attempt fails miserably for Punk but he lands with a right hand and gets to the clinch. Jackson muscles him off after a few moments and Punk throws some pretty bad punches at him before eating a shot to the body. Right hand glances for Punk. Couple more punches land for Jackson but Punk swings his way into the clinch again. Good knee to the body lands for Punk as they jockey for position, and then Punk almost gets a takedown only for Jackson to just about defend it. 1:30 to go and they break and Jackson tags Punk again. Punk is swinging back but his form is so wild. Another takedown is stuffed by Jackson. Looks like Punk might be busted up as he flails with some more punches that miss. Seconds later though he actually hits a takedown and passes into half-guard! Couple of elbows land for Punk but Jackson reverses to his feet and opens up with a combination with Punk on the fence. Round ends with a Jackson elbow. 10-9 Jackson and Punk looks gassed.

Round Two and Punk comes out swinging and forces Jackson to retreat. Takedown attempt follows as a response to some jabs but Jackson stuffs it and breaks free. Wild combination glances for Punk as Jackson calmly fires back. Big overhand right wobbles Punk and he’s in trouble. Jackson looks to unload on him but Punk ties him up. He jumps for a guillotine but Jackson defends calmly and dumps him to the ground in full guard. From there literally nothing happens as Jackson just drops the odd hammer fist and doesn’t do much at all. Punk is totally out of gas here. Couple of good shots do get through for Jackson but he still doesn’t really open up. He does easily avoid a possible triangle choke though. Taunting follows for Jackson and I’ve got no idea why. Action slows down as Jackson continues to land shots while Punk tries the odd triangle choke without really tying him up. That’s the round, and it’s got to be 10-8 for Jackson this time.

Round Three and Punk comes out swinging but walks into Jackson’s jab. Clinch from Punk and he moves Jackson into the fence, but Jackson quickly reverses him and lands some punches with Punk against the fence. Jackson breaks off and then clinches himself, and as he breaks off a left jab sends Punk staggering. Takedown attempt from Punk fails again and Jackson nails him with a left that puts him onto his back, but he stands back up rather than go into Punk’s guard. Flailing punches from Punk miss and Jackson clocks him a few times but seems content to pick at him rather than push for the finish. Punk goes for the takedown again, but Jackson blocks it again and breaks off. Overhand right lands for Jackson and he continues to pick at Punk and stun him over and over. This is pretty pointless at this stage. Weird moment follows as Punk tries to roll for a kneebar and gets nowhere near, winding up on his back again. More punches land for Jackson from the top as Punk can’t seem to get out. No idea why Jackson hasn’t looked to end this yet. Fight somehow ends with Punk completing the takedown! 10-8 Jackson though for a 30-25 overall.

Official scores are 30-26 all round for Michael Jackson. Okay. So this wasn’t the worst fight of all time in my opinion and I actually don’t think Punk’s the worst guy I’ve seen in modern MMA as I’d class Dada 5000 from Bellator as being worse due to the time it took him to gas out and the fact that Punk seemed to at least know some stuff. He’s certainly down there with the worst in UFC history though and in hindsight I’m not sure Endeavour bothered to do this fight, as we found out Punk wasn’t UFC-worthy in the Gall fight and he didn’t really show improvements here outside of fighting a far worse opponent in Jackson. You can’t fault Punk’s heart at all of course and I admire him for doing it, but we knew all that post-Gall anyway. I’ve got no idea why Jackson didn’t push harder for a finish but realistically he’s probably not UFC calibre either. In the end this was basically pointless.

Heavyweight Fight: Tai Tuivasa vs Andrei Arlovski

Big step up for the young Aussie Tuivasa here then, as he’d looked great in beating Rashad Coulter and Cyril Asker prior to this, but obviously there’s a big difference between Asker and a former UFC champ like Arlovski, even if Andrei’s way past his prime now. I was picking Tuivasa to win based on his striking power and Andrei’s fading chin, but it wasn’t a given by any means due to the amount of question marks around Tuivasa’s overall game.

And holy shit Tuivasa walks out to MY HEART WILL GO ON by Celine Dion. Really. The dude is fucking CRAZY. He’s singing along to it and everything!

Round One begins and they circle right in the middle of the cage before Tuivasa lands some punches into the clinch, but Andrei breaks quickly. Counter right hand sends Tuivasa down for a second but he was off balance and he pops back up. Good low kick from Tuivasa. Big punches miss for both men before Arlovski lands a low kick. Hard right lands for Tuivasa and he clinches and gets Arlovski down, landing right in full mount. I think Andrei got rocked there. Action slows down though as Andrei ties Tuivasa up from the bottom with his arms. Crowd start to boo as Tuivasa can’t do a lot and Andrei bucks him off and stands. Tuivasa is badly cut from something. Counter left hand drops Arlovski but Tuivasa lets him back up. He manages to clinch and go for a takedown, but Tuivasa blocks it by getting his back to the fence. Good knee to the body from Andrei but Tuivasa breaks off. Combination from Tuivasa and he’s bleeding badly here. Big flurry pegs Andrei back and forces him to clinch again. Elbow breaks for Andrei but Tuivasa stuns him with another combination. Big right hand has Arlovski hurt but he fires back. High kick attempt sends Tuivasa slipping and Arlovski swings on him, but can’t land and the round ends there. 10-9 Tuivasa, fun round.

Round Two and Andrei opens with a short front kick to the stomach. Couple of low kicks follow before a head kick misses. Tuivasa looks like he’s slowed down a lot. He does land a combo, but Arlovski fires right back with a pair of hard overhand rights. Big trade sees Arlovski land some hard shots again as Tuivasa’s clearly got a good chin. Takedown attempt from Tuivasa and he drives Andrei into the fence, but can’t get him down. Arlovski breaks off and they exchange again with both landing. Looks like Tuivasa’s got some steam back as he lands another quick combo. Big shots have Arlovski backing up now. Spinning backfist glances for Arlovski and he follows with a low kick. Big combo hurts Arlovski and sends him stumbling into the fence, and so he clinches to slow things down. Takedown from Arlovski but he lets Tuivasa right back up. Eye poke follows for Tuivasa and the ref calls time to let Andrei recover. They restart and Arlovski walks into a nasty left hook as he tries to push forward. Seconds to go now and Andrei lands with a hard low kick. Spinning backfist misses for Arlovski and Tuivasa throws a hard right hand that misses too. Round ends soon after. Very close round but I’d probably go 10-9 Arlovski for the early work he did.

Round Three and Tuivasa opens with a leg kick this time. Combination follows to back Arlovski up. Big swing misses for Andrei. Couple of kicks miss too as Tuivasa continues to push forward. Nice right hand from the Aussie. Combination answers back for Arlovski. More punches land for Tuivasa as he continues to push the action, and he breaks a clinch quickly too. Elbow lands for the Aussie. He actually looks less tired than Arlovski now. Just over two minutes to go now and both men have dropped their output a bit but it’s Tuivasa who’s pushing the action. Good left hook connects hard for Tuivasa. Flurry follows and he forces Arlovski back and has him wobbled. Big right stuns Andrei but he manages to circle out. Tuivasa’s really swinging now. Andrei keeps on firing back though and this remains a close fight to score. Leg kicks land for both men and Arlovski lands with a jab. Nice one-two from Tuivasa. Round ends with another exchange. 10-9 Tuivasa for me, meaning a 29-28 win for the Aussie.

All three judges have it 29-28 for Tai Tuivasa, causing a mixed reaction from the crowd. Really it could’ve gone either way but despite taking a ton of cosmetic damage I thought the best round was Tuivasa’s first and he did enough for the win across the 15 minutes. Hell of a fight though as they really pushed the pace, took some heavy shots and yet it never descended into a slop-fest. New respect for Tuivasa too as he’s clearly the real deal. No need to shove him right to the top just yet though – someone like Stefan Struve or Marcin Tybura would work next – but he’s clearly a future contender. And post-fight he DOWNS A BEER FROM A SHOE but not Joe Rogan’s shoe, which is hilarious and disgusting in the same breath!

Women’s Featherweight Fight: Megan Anderson vs Holly Holm

Well, this was one of those fights that sounded great on paper, but didn’t make all that much sense from a booking standpoint – basically I felt it would’ve been smarter to set Anderson up with a tomato can type opponent to build her for a shot at Cris Cyborg, rather than putting her against a tough opponent in Holm who’d already had a title shot, but I guess the UFC loves Holm and so there you go. I was pulling for Anderson to win just to freshen things up a bit but it was definitely a tough out for the Aussie.

First round begins and they throw out some feints with Anderson pushing forward. Good body kick from Holm but she eats a big knee from Anderson as she backs up into the fence. Clinch from Holm but Anderson hits her with another hard knee. Left hand lands inside the clinch from Holm and she follows that with an elbow. Action slows down a lot from there as they muscle for position, exchanging a few knees but little else. This is a really boring round. Two minutes to go and they break off, and Anderson glances with a long right hand. Nice front kick to the jaw lands for Holm and then she shoots for a takedown and gets it, but they go into a weird position on the ground with Anderson almost reversing. Holly manages to avoid that though and winds up on top in side mount. Mount attempt from Holm but Anderson catches half-guard and tries a reversal. She winds up in donkey guard, but the round ends before anything else can happen. 10-9 Holm.

Second round and Anderson stalks forward but walks into some nice quick punches from Holm. Beautiful overhand right connects for Holm. Takedown attempt from Holm follows and she pushes Megan into the fence, but can’t complete it. Action slows down again as they jockey for position on the fence, and then Holm breaks off. Both girls glance on some punches before Holm uses a couple of side kicks to keep the distance. Body kick follows as Anderson continues to stalk her. Kick from Anderson is caught and Holm gets her down again, landing in half-guard. It looks like she might be working on a far-side kimura, and then she uses that to pass into full mount pretty much. Anderson manages to just about avoid the mount and so Holm slips into side mount instead where she continues to work on the kimura. Good short punches connect for Holm from the top and then she nicely moves into full mount. Big shots land for Holm from there and she’s in firm control. Arm triangle attempt from Holm follows but she gives it up to drop some more punches. Flurry connects for Holm and Anderson is in trouble. Holly can’t finish her though despite continuing to land until the round ends. 10-8 round for Holm due to the dominance on the ground.

Third round and Holm opens up with a combination ending in a body kick. Megan pushes forward but eats a nasty right hand, only to return fire and land one of her own on Holm. Holm decides to go for the takedown again and this time Megan defends it, but only finds herself shoved into the fence. Holm keeps working and manages to trip the Aussie down into side mount, and from there she steps right into full mount. She lands some shots but then decides to let Anderson get back up to her feet when she tries to reverse. Two minutes to go and Holm uses kicks to keep Anderson at a distance, then clinches again and wrestles Megan down once more. Half-guard this time for the Aussie but she’s seemingly got no answer from Holm’s top work. Easy pass to full mount follows and Anderson is getting smashed here. Big flurry lands for Holm and she keeps working, trying a guillotine on the buzzer. 10-9 for Holm and I’d call it 30-26 overall.

Judges have it 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26 for Holly Holm. Totally one-sided fight in the end once Holm realised Anderson basically had no answer for the takedowns or ground work, as it looked relatively even standing early in the first before the takedown. Not the best fight to watch and it more exposed some holes in Anderson’s game than anything else – she clearly needs work on her ground game before she fights Cyborg – but she’s still a fun prospect to watch I think. As for Holm I don’t see the point in doing the Cyborg fight again so why not Amanda Nunes which is what she seems to want? That’d at least be something interesting for Nunes to do.

UFC Interim Welterweight Title: Colby Covington vs Rafael Dos Anjos

Can’t say that I agreed with the idea of an Interim Title at Welterweight given Tyron Woodley had actually been active – making three defences to this point – but I suppose as he was out for a while and had been out since July 2017 that’s as much justification as the UFC in 2018 need! In terms of a winner, I felt like RDA would be too well-rounded for Covington and would probably win, but I was actually pulling for Colby – not because I like him but because he at least gets people talking and I felt he could become the Sonnen to Woodley’s Anderson Silva.

Round One and the crowd hate Covington despite him being the American fighter against a Brazilian. Colby comes out swinging and gets a takedown right away, pressuring RDA backwards. RDA attempts to scramble to his feet and does so, but Colby keeps him against the fence and looks to drag him down again. Suplex puts him down but RDA muscles himself back up. Covington keeps him against the fence and they muscle for position and exchange a few elbows. They break off and Colby continues to press forward, but he eats some sharp counters en route to the clinch. He drops for the takedown again but RDA defends it well and catches him with a few shots inside too. They break and Colby lands with a body kick, but can’t get the Brazilian down. Wild punches miss for Covington but he’s forcing RDA back. Big uppercut to the body from RDA but Colby takes it well and clinches. RDA breaks off again, only for Covington to quickly land a shot and go for the takedown. RDA stuffs it again and works some elbows to the head and a knee to the body, and they break off with the Brazilian landing some more nice combinations. Covington’s got a great chin. Nasty leg kick from RDA but Colby keeps on pushing the pace and clinches him again. Covington’s pace is insane. Left hand breaks for RDA and he lands the better shots again in an exchange. Colby clinches once more though and the round ends there. Despite all the forward movement from Covington he took far more hard shots in that round. 10-9 Dos Anjos, then.

Round Two and Covington starts quickly again, landing a head kick and a flurry that sets up a takedown. RDA pops right back up again but Covington stays on him and looks to drag him back down. Dos Anjos again lands a couple of decent shots from the clinch, but he can’t seem to shake Colby off him and even as they break Covington keeps on coming forward. Takedown attempt again from Covington as the crowd chant “Colby sucks”, but he gets RDA down for a moment anyway. The Brazilian pops up yet again, and they exchange kicks before RDA lands a vicious uppercut to the body. Clinch from Covington again though but RDA breaks swiftly. They exchange shots and RDA lands with a hard left hand, but again Colby takes it well. He’s also landing solid shots of his own in these exchanges. Hard uppercut snaps RDA’s head back in another trade and that sets up a takedown attempt. Covington’s heavy-pressure style is genuinely reminiscent of Chael Sonnen in his roided prime. RDA manages to fend him off, but Covington lands another left uppercut and then tackles him down. This time he keeps him down with a single hook from the back, and as RDA works to his feet he looks a bit tired. Round ends as RDA breaks off and it looks like Covington’s badly busted open. 10-9 Covington for pushing such an insane pace, though.

Round Three and Colby literally runs out of his corner and comes in swinging wildly with kicks and punches to get into the clinch. Single leg attempt follows but RDA shakes him off. Nice combination backs RDA up again though and Colby clinches once more. Two heavy knees to the body land for Dos Anjos but he can’t shake Covington off him. They break and it’s Covington who opens up with some kicks and more wild punches. He literally will not stop coming forward, it’s insane. Takedown attempt follows and he gets a rear waistlock but can’t drag RDA down. They separate again and this time a low blow lands for Colby. Ref calls time as the crowd instantly boo. They restart and trade off right away with Covington getting the better of it purely due to volume. He forces RDA back into the fence again and both men look busted up now. Covington remains all over the Brazilian before they break, and this time RDA lands a hard one-two but somehow Colby walks right through it and gets the clinch again. One minute to go and it’s another break, but again Covington walks him right down and this time he gets the takedown. RDA looks to work to his feet, but Colby holds onto a rear waistlock until the Brazilian slips free. Seconds to go and Colby lands some more punches that set up yet another clinch, and the round ends as they break. 10-9 Covington and RDA looks like he’s wilting.

Round Four and Colby comes sprinting out but walks RIGHT INTO a BRUTAL LEFT HAND, but somehow he doesn’t even seem hurt. This guy has a chin of iron. RDA keeps firing shots at him this time as Colby keeps wandering forward, but after a good body shot Covington tackles him down. RDA pops right back up and then hits Covington with a takedown of his own, popping the crowd hugely. Colby immediately looks to reverse and rolls onto all fours, and RDA takes a front facelock and uses it to control him. Covington manages to stand though, forcing RDA into the fence, but Dos Anjos shoots and takes him down again with another double leg. Colby’s got his back to the fence though and he manages to just about stand, but now he’s looking tired too. Dos Anjos keeps on working for the takedown and he forces Colby onto his knees and lands some knees to the thighs, then forces him back down. Two minutes to go and Colby stands and manages to break free. Body kick lands for him but RDA fires off with some sharp counters again. Covington gets a clinch though but this time RDA spins off instantly. He shoots for another double leg but Colby stuffs it and they clinch again. One minute left and they break, and Colby swings with a decent combo only to eat a counter right. Takedown attempt is defended by RDA and both men swing wild with RDA landing a hard left. Seconds to go and Covington takes him down, landing in half-guard to end the round. 10-9 Dos Anjos as he outworked Colby for most of the round.

Round Five and Colby presses forward with a front kick to the body, and from there he clinches and looks to wrestle RDA down. He manages to get a rear waistlock and slaps one hook in from a standing position, as Dos Anjos desperately tries to get free. Pair of left hands break for Covington and then RDA misses a jumping knee before Colby takes him down. RDA pops back up, but again Covington stays right on him and wears him down some more. They break off and exchange, but again all the forward motion is from Covington. RDA works to stuff a double leg, but only ends up giving up the rear waistlock again. Unless RDA can pull out something special then this is going to be Colby’s fight. They break off and a big combo from Colby allows him right back into the clinch. RDA breaks again, only to take a body kick. Both men land punches with RDA staggering Colby with a left, but he recovers instantly to stuff a takedown and go for one of his own. One minute to go and Colby’s all over him still. Takedown is completed this time and that might be it. RDA manages to use a kimura attempt to sweep and escape to his feet though. Big trade follows with both men landing before RDA stuffs a takedown. Round ends with another striking exchange. 10-9 Covington and I’d call it 48-47 for Colby overall. Hell of a fight in the end.

Judges have it 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47…..all for Colby Covington, making him the new Interim Welterweight champion. Crowd naturally hate that but it was the right call – despite some good points for Dos Anjos the story of the fight was largely the sheer pace of Covington forcing the Brazilian onto his back foot throughout. It was basically a classic Chael Sonnen-type performance, and as much as Covington comes off as an absolute scumbag you have to admire the guy’s skills. It was an entertaining fight, too, simply due to the crazy pace that Covington put on. And post-fight he calls out Tyron Woodley….and says he’s going to put the belt on Donald Trump’s desk, getting him even MORE crowd heat. Do I see him beating Woodley? I hope not, but I want to see the fight for sure and that’s got to be a good thing.

Middleweight Fight: Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero

A rematch of one of 2017’s best fights – a close decision won by Whittaker – this was set up when Romero knocked out Luke Rockhold in February after Whittaker had to drop out of his planned fight with Rockhold due to a bad staph infection. General consensus seemed to be that this one could go either way – I couldn’t pick a winner myself – but things got a bit foggy when Romero managed to miss weight and looked terrible on the scale, causing it to be switched to a non-title fight. With the weight snafu, Whittaker appeared to be the definitive favourite.

First round and Whittaker opens with the side kick to the left leg. Couple more follow as if he’s returning the favour from the first fight where Romero used that weapon himself. One minute in and Romero’s basically thrown nothing. He does cover up well to avoid Whittaker’s punches though. Big left hook finally glances for Romero but Whittaker remains by far the more active fighter. He’s doing a really good job of working Romero’s left leg over. Overhand right glances for Whittaker at the end of a combo. He lands some more strikes from the outside as Romero throws the left again but doesn’t follow it up. Big spinning backfist just misses for Romero. Whittaker continues to press him back with strikes although he hasn’t hurt the Cuban yet. This is such a weird gameplan from Romero. He does land with a big low kick but doesn’t really follow it up, and Whittaker gets back on offense to end the round. 10-9 Whittaker in a bit of an odd round really.

Second round and Whittaker opens with the side kick to the leg again, before avoiding a weird shove-type move from Romero. More kicks land for Whittaker as Romero continues to fight with an odd stance, not really attacking. Side kick lands for Romero now. Looks like he might be trying to lull Whittaker into a false sense of security perhaps. Whittaker continues to pick at him with combos from the outside, but they’re not having all that much effect. Big overhand right glances for Whittaker. More kicks follow to keep Romero pegged back, and still the Cuban is being pretty inactive. Body kicks land for both men. Big head kick misses for Romero. Stiff jab from Whittaker and it looks like Romero’s right eye is pretty badly swollen up. Whittaker takes advantage of that with another hard jab and then glances on a head kick too. The Aussie shrugs off a clinch attempt and he continues to pick at Romero although the Cuban fires back some more finally. Head kick into a right hand almost lands for Romero. Whittaker avoids it and then avoids a takedown too, and he ends the round with a couple more jabs. 10-9 Whittaker.

Third round and Romero narrowly misses a counter left to the side kick to the leg. Big head kick misses for Whittaker and suddenly both guys start swinging pretty hard. Suddenly a BIG RIGHT HAND sends Whittaker flying, and he’s in trouble! He pops back up but has to retreat badly, and Romero chases him down, swinging for the finish. He throws the Aussie down and Whittaker tries to grab onto a leg to survive as Romero bombs on his head. They come back up and Whittaker still looks hurt, but he manages to clinch to slow the onslaught down. Holy shit. More big shots land for Romero, but Whittaker nails him with an elbow to slow him down. Takedown attempt from Romero fails and Whittaker nails him with another right, and now they’re trading like a Rocky movie. Jesus. They clinch up and both men look hurt now. Big shots to the body land for Romero from the clinch and Whittaker breaks with a spinning elbow only to eat a couple more hard blows. Solid knee to the body connects for Whittaker though and both men are slowing down a little. Takedown attempt fails for Romero and they break off. Both guys are still swinging hard and it looks like Whittaker’s badly cut. Big shots set up the clinch again for Romero and then he breaks to UNLOAD on the Aussie with more huge punches. Whittaker has to circle out and then suddenly he lands a head kick from nowhere to stun Romero! Somehow the Cuban takes it and fires right back with MORE SHOTS and now I have no idea how either man is standing, wow. Takedown from Romero but Whittaker pops back up after absorbing more punches. They jockey for position inside the clinch and the round ends there. 10-9 Romero in probably the best round of 2018 thus far.

Fourth round and the crowd are hugely into this fight. Combination opens the round for Whittaker and pegs Romero back somewhat and to me Romero clearly looks the more tired of the two. Kicks back Romero towards the fence and a big head kick follows for Whittaker. Romero’s chin is unbelievable as he just eats it right up. Spin attack misses for Romero and he eats another kick. Couple more side kicks to the knee land for Whittaker and Romero’s leg outright buckles. Groin strike follows though and gives Romero some time to rest as ref Dan Miragliotta calls time. They restart and Whittaker goes right back to the side kick to the knee. Big combo lands for Romero but Whittaker takes it well. The Aussie definitely looks like the fresher man and now he opens up with a combination beginning with a triple jab. Brutal kick buckles Romero’s leg right backwards. Announcers mention that Whittaker’s stopped throwing his right hand as he suspects it’s broken. More strikes land for the champ before Romero returns fire with a body shot. Exchange continues with Whittaker clearly doing more damage. One minute to go and Romero needs to do something more in this round. It looks like he might be way out of steam though. Seconds to go and Whittaker continues to pick at him, but he takes a left hand that staggers him a bit. Romero follows it up with a big combo, but Whittaker circles to safety to end the round. 10-9 Whittaker and I’d call it 39-37 for him going into the fifth round.

Fifth round and both men land jabs in the opening seconds. Combination lands for Romero and then he hurts Whittaker with a one-two. The Aussie recovers quickly and comes back with a couple more jabs and side kicks, and it might be the case that Romero’s too tired to really go for a finish. Beautiful jabs connect for Whittaker. Couple of big punches connect for Romero as Whittaker tries desperately to use his kicks to keep distance. Low kick leads to a CRUSHING LEFT HAND though and the Aussie is down! Romero looks to finish him off with Whittaker on all fours, but somehow he does enough to survive by clinging onto the leg. Jesus Christ he’s tough. Somehow he gets to his feet and almost hits a single leg, but Romero sprawls out and continues to control him. Finally he gets up, but eats some more heavy shots from Romero on the fence. Trip puts him back down and the Cuban keeps on throwing punches, but Whittaker somehow hangs in there. This is insane. 1:30 remaining and Whittaker’s still struggling to get up, but he looks out of danger now as Romero’s clearly exhausted. Ref breaks them with 30 seconds to go and somehow Whittaker seems okay now. Romero charges at him but can’t land cleanly, and ends up slipping down after a front kick from Whittaker. Round ends there, wow. 10-9 Romero for a 48-47 win for Whittaker, but that round could’ve been 10-8 so it could be a draw too.

Official scores are 48-47 Romero, 48-47 Whittaker, and 48-47….for Robert Whittaker. Whew, that was a close one but I think the judges got it right in the end. If you’re using PRIDE scoring then Romero wins due to all the damage he did in the 3rd and 5th rounds but the UFC doesn’t use PRIDE scoring and I don’t see how you could give Romero the 1st, 2nd or 4th round as he did so little. Clearly that was to preserve his cardio and shit, the plan almost worked, but Whittaker is fucking tough as iron and so it’s not exactly easy to put him away in a rush like it is with other fighters.

Post-fight Whittaker confirms his hand was broken in the FIRST ROUND and was basically fucked. The dude is just one of the toughest guys in MMA history and he’s one of the best overall fighters too. This was probably the FOTY for 2018 thus far as both guys left everything in the cage for a totally unbelievable war.

-Show ends with some plugs for the next couple of shows and we are DONE.

Final Thoughts….

With five fights all going the distance this was a real slog to get through, especially considering Punk/Jackson and Holm/Anderson weren’t very good, but the other three fights were pretty great and Romero/Whittaker in particular was fantastic and is well worth checking out. Covington/Dos Anjos was a lot of fun too and Tai Tuivasa drank a beer from a shoe so what’s not to like? Thumbs up just about.

Best Fight: Whittaker vs. Romero
Worst Fight: Punk vs. Jackson

Overall Rating: ***1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com