I’m not saying that I don’t understand why the UFC put CM Punk on the main card of UFC 225. I know there is still a group of people for whom he serves as a curiosity for whom they are willing to shell out $65 in order find out if he has gotten any better. That group is small, but I have to admit that it is probably larger than those who are willing to shell out that type of money for Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes. Despite that, it doesn’t mean it’s right. What can I say? People enjoy looking at a car wreck. Just don’t expect much of a preview of Punk’s contest with Mike Jackson as there isn’t much to break down.
To be fair to Overeem and Blaydes, the only reason more are willing to fork out the money for a stellar former professional wrestler turned crappy MMA fighter is those who are willing to pay for Overeem and Blaydes are already tuning in for the main and co-main event of UFC 225. Plus, Holly Holm is on the card. No, she isn’t the PPV demon that many believed she could turn into when she upset Ronda Rousey, but she does have her audience.
The main card of UFC 225 begins at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT.
Holly Holm (11-4) vs. Megan Anderson (7-2), Women’s Featherweight
Holm is one of the most divisive figures in the sport. While still eminently recognizable for one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports – not just this sport -- when she overthrew Rousey, she has since gone 1-4. Yet because casual fans recognize her, she continues to get high profile matches as only one of those losses came in a non-title contest.
Despite the Rousey upset, Holm isn’t a revolutionary figure, nor is she as bad as her 1-4 record indicates. She’s somewhere in between. Her loss to Germaine de Randamie had some controversy and – even if the contest really wasn’t close – she did provide Cyborg Justino with the toughest contest of her career. Holm is still a tough out for anyone at 135 or 145.
Holm’s biggest problem is everyone has figured her out. She’s at her best on the counter, catching her opponent as they charge at her… just as Rousey did. Thus, everyone has responded by waiting for Holm to come at them. When she does, she either presses them against the cage for long periods of time with little meaningful offense being delivered or her offense from the outside often comes up just short. Her activity level can be deceiving as she’ll throw a lot of volume, but not a lot of it tends to land. Case in point, less than 20% of her strikes against Cyborg landed.
Anderson typically likes to go after her opponents, making it interesting to see if she maintains that strategy given how Holm responds to aggression from her opponents. Perhaps she’ll pressure the way Cyborg did in hopes of getting Holm to throw first. Anderson has a lot of natural power in her fists, mixing up her strikes beautifully. She does tend to leave her chin out quite a bit as she marches forward and relies on her brute strength to get the fight to the ground. Though she is a good athlete, speed or quickness aren’t necessarily great attributes for the Aussie. She makes up for that with her accuracy.
Even though the losses have been racking up for Holm, she has also been picking up valuable experience in each of the contests. She’s been in there with the best and has proven to be incredibly durable. Anderson will have a difficult time catching Holm, leading to a strong likelihood of her getting frustrated and going for broke with the former boxing champion. Don’t be surprised if Holm lands one of her trademark head kicks for the KO, but a decision feels more likely. Holm via decision
Andrei Arlovski (27-15) vs. Tai Tuivasa (9-0), Heavyweight
Arlovski has become the go-to guy the UFC wishes to test their up-and-coming heavyweight talents against. They did it with Francis Ngannou. They did it with Marcin Tybura. They did it with Junior Albini. Now they’re throwing Tai Tuivasa at the former champion.
No disrespect to all those other fighters the UFC threw at Arlovski, but Tuivasa has all of them beat in terms of personality, hands down. From dancing a jig after his KO’s to drinking alcohol from a boot on his way to the back, it isn’t hard to see why the UFC may be rushing the Mark Hunt protégé to the top as fast as they possibly can. Like Hunt, Tuivasa is an impressive athlete underneath his flabby frame, flashing that ability when he won his UFC debut with a flying knee on Rashad Coulter. Pressure is the name of the game for the New Zealander, pressing his opponent against the fence before teeing off with his fists and elbows.
Arlovski may not have aged like a fine wine, but he’s still a top heavyweight athlete at the age of 39. Part of that has to do with the lack of top athletes in the division as Arlovski has noticeably faded, but he can at least hang with just about any opponent in the division in that department. His hands are still fast, but he’s also been reluctant to go for the kill since his most recent losing streak. However, the lack of killer instinct has also limited the exposure of his chin, long his weakest link. Basically, Arlovski has become a point fighter, countering his still dangerous right hand and low kicks.
Though Tuivasa’s power + Arlovski’s weak chin makes for a relatively easy pick on the surface, Tuivasa’s conditioning hasn’t been tested. If Arlovski can survive beyond the first round, it very well could be his fight. It should be mentioned that the standup isn’t the only way Tuivasa can win. Tuivasa’s wrestling is reliant upon brute strength, though he has plenty of it. Arlovski was taken down by Tybura multiple times. If Tybura can get him down, Tuivasa can take him down. Tuivasa via TKO of RD2
CM Punk (0-1) vs. Mike Jackson (0-1), Welterweight
All I can do is shake my head. If you’re reading this, you don’t want to see this fight. I don’t want to see this fight. If CM Punk is going to fight, I’d rather see him fight Daniel Bryan. Seriously.
There’s no way around it: Punk looked terrible in his UFC/MMA debut. He looked as though he had no idea a takedown was coming from Mickey Gall and offering no resistance. At 39-years old, what makes anyone believe that he’s going to finally pick things up?
All you need to know about Jackson is he was handpicked for this contest in an attempt to make this a competitive scrap for Punk. Jackson does have plenty of kickboxing training as well as an amateur win under his belt. However, he’s best known as a photographer and journalist for MMA. Jackson didn’t look nearly as clueless as Punk was when Gall starched him, but it wasn’t like it was a competitive bout either.
I refuse to break this contest down any further than that. It’s a terrible fight and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Jackson at least has a semblance to a fighter. That’s enough for me to pick him. Jackson via TKO of RD1