The United Center in Chicago, Illinois was home to a weird night of fights, with four (T)KOs, one submission, and eight decisions, half of which were split-decisions and plenty of questionable judging.
UFC 225 was supposed to be headlined by two title fights, but after Yoel Romero missed weight by 0.2 lbs, his middleweight bout against Robert Whittaker was changed to a non-title contest. Romero also earned the dubious distinction of being the first fighter in UFC history to miss weight for two title fights.
Performances of the Night
Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira got the fifth guillotine win of his UFC career over veteran stalwart and time-travelling caveman, Clay Guida. Guida’s UFC career—not his MMA career—has spanned twelve years, and his once impregnable chin has started to show cracks. Do Bronx locked up the guillotine after first dropping Guida with a big knee two minutes into the first round, and by 2:18 it was over. The submission gained Oliveira a $50,000 bonus.
Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes had an interesting fight which saw Overeem choose to attack with leg locks more than the punches, kicks and knees he’s better known for. The Demolition Man’s ground game is underrated, but even so, his willingness to put himself in weak positions seemed likely to backfire all fight. Sure enough, Blaydes got top position in the third round following a takedown and exploded Overeem’s face across the rest of his face with some massive elbows, earning a victory and 50,000 smackers in the process.
Fight of the Night:
Usually, fight of the night bonuses are awarded to the two fighters who put on the best bout of the evening. The UFC decided the two fighters who beat each other up best were Robert Whittaker when he beat up Robert Whittaker, with Yoel Romero as a bystander. That, or Romero wasn’t eligible for a bonus because he was 0.2 lbs too fat to qualify. You decide which is true.
Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero put on an absolute slobberknocker of a fight. The first two rounds were Robert Whittaker hitting Yoel Romero while the Cuban absorbed the blows, letting them power up his special meter so he could unleash his finishing moves and flying knee combos later in the fight. Whittaker hit Romero so many times in the first round he apparently broke his hand on Romero’s skull. Then, he kept punching Romero with it anyway, because Robert Whittaker is a glorious maniac.
At some point during the second round, Romero got caught with a punch that almost immediately swelled his right eye closed. Unfortunately, injuring Romero just makes him angry, and the angrier Romero gets, the stronger he becomes. In the third round he came out and bashed Whittaker’s head in, knocking him down and wobbling him like an inflatable car store mascot.
Whittaker, being Australian, knew exactly how to handle this; in between headbutting Romero’s knuckles, he started elbowing God’s soldier’s head until Romero stopped attacking him quite so hard, like a shark booped hard in the snoot.
The fourth round saw Whittaker land three times as many shots as Romero, all while Yoel would occasionally just try to pull off a fatality in the middle of the fight, not realizing they only actually end the bout if you do them after the round.
The fifth and final round saw Romero down Whittaker again, and this time he rode Bobby Knuckles like an unruly calf at a rodeo, occasionally landing shots here and there to prevent a stand-up. Whittaker got back to his feet for about 30 seconds at the end of the round, which was just enough to prevent a 10-8 score on any of the judges’ scorecards. Whittaker won a split decision (48-47 x2 and 47-48), and got a full $100K bonus due to Romero missing weight for the fight. I guess that’ll make up for the lack of a title defense credit on his record.