Fight of the Year contender comes out of UFC 225 this past Saturday night in Chicago

You would expect nothing less than perfection when watching a sporting event in the house that Michael Jordan built, and that’s pretty much what a sold out crowd got this past Saturday at UFC 225: Whittaker vs. Romero 2 from the United Center in Chicago, IL.

But you noticed I did say pretty much though, because kicking off the card was the return of Chicago’s own CM Punk. And even with the thunderous sound of his hometown crowd behind him, and even though he lasted all three rounds which was leaps and bounds better than his first showing, it would seem that after this loss to Mike Jackson, the CM Punk MMA ride will now be closed for business. “It should be wrap,” explained UFC owner Dana White. “The guy is thirty-nine years old. I love the guy and he’s the nicest guy in the world. We gave him two shots and he had a lot of heart tonight in this fight but I think he should call it a wrap.” White was very displeased with Punk’s opponent as well. “He was acting like a goofball tonight. I don’t know what that guy did for a living before we gave him a shot but whatever it was he needs to go back and do that again. He’s 0-2 as far as I’m concerned. That’s it for his career. I wouldn’t put that kid in The Contender Series.”

It was quite the opposite feeling from White about the heavyweight’s showing for the night as grizzled UFC veteran Andrei Arlovski showed that he could still hang with the youngsters despite losing to still undefeated Tai Tuivasa. “Tai looked great tonight, said White. “He was in a war tonight against a crafty veteran that did not want to get beat tonight. And those are the guys you have to fight when you are a young up and comer like him to get better and to get that experience under your belt.”

Coming off a big loss to Cris Cyborg last December, former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm needed a big win against Megan Anderson, who was making her UFC debut in Chicago that night. That’s exactly what she got against the Australian fighter and is now ready to weigh her options as a featherweight or a bantamweight for the UFC. “She says she wants both,” said White. “I love that answer. She says she wants it all.”

The buildup for the co-main event of UFC 225 was one for the ages. McGregor-like if you ask this writer. Leaving no stone unturned and no word off limits, Colby Covington backed up all his words in his fight with welterweight Rafael Dos Anjos and for that took home the interim welterweight title in a split decision win. “He looked great tonight and did a lot better than I expected him to do,” said White. “I always thought of RDA as a well-rounded guy and I thought he was going to give Colby Covington a lot of trouble but Colby looked good tonight.”

The main event of the evening was not void of pre-fight controversy as well. In a rematch between current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero, became a one sided title fight for just Whittaker as Romero failed to make weight the day before. And to make matters worse for Romero it now seems like he was not given the full two hours from the commission to get the final pound off. “Yeah that happened,” said White. “I wasn’t here for that but we are looking into that.”

But even with all that, Romero and Whittaker put on a Fight of the Year candidate fight as they went all five rounds landing shots on each other that would have put anyone else down in the division. Whittaker suffered a broken hand in the third round and was still able to push through two more. “He’s obviously had some back luck,” said White. “But he looked great. He’s tough, he’s durable. Tonight’s fight was incredible.”

The United Center has been home to some epic fights for the UFC and UFC 225 was no different. In a night that saw pro-wrestler turn MMA fighter CM Punk make what was probably his last go in the octagon to a main event that had all eighteen thousand plus fans on their feet for almost the entire fight, Chicago showed again that MMA is always welcome to blow through the Windy City whenever they want. “I love this town,” exclaimed White. “This is a real sports town. I love the food in this town and the fans are incredible. Everything about Chicago is awesome man. So yeah, we love Chicago. We’ll be back to Chicago.”

Photo by Nicholas Cunningham

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