10 reasons to watch UFC 225, the most robust card of 2018 – even missing a title fight

Saturday’s UFC 225 fight card is, without a doubt, the most robust card the promotion has put together in 2018.

Because of a missed mark on the scale for one of the title fighters, just one championship bout sits atop the event. In the headliner, middleweight champion Robert Whittaker returns to action for the first time in nearly a year. His opponent is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division and a man he defeated by unanimous decision in July 2017, Yoel Romero. But Romero missed weight, meaning the fight will be a non-title bout and Whittaker’s belt won’t be on the line.

In the co-main event, former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos looks to become a two-division titleholder when he meets Colby Covington in a bout for the interim welterweight championship.

There are also a few fights that could determine the next title challenger in their respective divisions. Chief among those matchups is the women’s featherweight bout between ex-bantamweight champion Holly Holm and ex-Invicta FC featherweight champion Megan Anderson.

UFC 225 takes place at United Center in Chicago, and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. An anticipated rematch

Many of the breakdowns of the main event focus on a few things. When it comes to Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, the spotlight is on his striking, speed, footwork, and ability to adjust during his fights. For Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who is ranked No. 3 in the division, that focus is on his power and suspect gas tank.

The first time these two fought, Whittaker battled through a leg injury to earn the unanimous-decision win. He also fought smart, never giving Romero the opportunity to add to his impressive list of highlight reel stoppages. It would be a shock if Whittaker changed any part of his game plan for the rematch.

As for Romero, he has vowed that the result of the rematch will be different.

“I made a mistake, and this time we worked on the mistake I made in the last fight with (Whittaker),” Romero told MMAjunkie. “On Saturday, we’ll make it better. I had a moment in the fight I could’ve finished him, and I didn’t. This time, I’ll finish him.”

2. A chance to make history

Dos Anjos looks to join the small group of UFC fighters who can call themselves two-division champions when he meets Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in Chicago. To achieve that goal, the ex-lightweight kingpin has to overcome deficiencies in height and reach. More importantly, dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC) has to show he is not the same fighter he was four years ago when Khabib Nurmagomedov took him down six times en route to defeating dos Anjos via unanimous decision.

Covington, who is the No. 3 ranked fighter in the welterweight division, has used his high-level wrestling to steadily climb the rankings over the past two years and five fights. Covington is unbeaten in his five most recent bouts and has accumulated 31 takedowns in those contests.

Since he moved up to welterweight in 2017, dos Anjos has stormed through the division, racking up three wins in three fights. Dos Anjos is currently the No. 4 ranked fighter at 170 pounds.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the aftermath of this bout.

Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley recently told MMAjunkie Radio that he wants to fight Georges St-Pierre, Nate Diaz or Conor McGregor in August at UFC 227. If the winner of this fight wants to fit into that timeline, he’ll face a very short turnaround.


3. The day has finally arrived

Well, will you look at that. A legitimate 145-pounder has joined the ranks of the UFC’s women’s featherweight division. And that fighter, Anderson, brings some bona fides along with her. A veteran of five fights under the Invicta FC banner, Anderson won four of those contests by knockout. She also collected three fight-night bonuses during that stretch. In January 2017, she won the Invicta interim featherweight belt. Anderson was later promoted to undisputed champion when Cris Cyborg vacated that title to pursue a UFC featherweight title shot.

Anderson was initially booked to face Cyborg for the vacant UFC title at UFC 214, but Anderson withdrew from that June 2017 matchup for undisclosed personal reasons.

Anderson meets former UFC women’s bantamweight champion and two-time featherweight title challenger Holly Holm at UFC 225. Anderson (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has a four-inch height and four-inch reach advantage over her opponent. Holm (11-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC) has struggled as of late. After beginning her career with a perfect 10-0 record, she is 1-4 in her past five bouts. Three of those matchups were UFC title bouts.

This, the first non-title fight in the UFC’s women’s featherweight division, is a huge opportunity for both women. The odds that the winner will move on to face Cyborg in a UFC title scrap are very high.

4. More than ‘that dude who drank beer out of a shoe’

Tai Tuivasa’s over-exuberant celebration after his UFC 221 knockout win over Cyril Asker received a lot of attention. It also, fairly or unfairly, got the 25-year-old Australian pegged as “that dude who drank a beer out of someone’s shoe.” Or to use the proper term, the guy who delivered the first “shoey” in UFC history.

Tai Tuivasa chugging beer out of a shoe? Tai Tuivasa chugging beer out of a shoe. pic.twitter.com/PvQJcpCXuk

— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) February 11, 2018

Behind that fun-loving persona is an up-and-coming heavyweight who is 9-0 with nine knockout victories. During his two-fight stint with the UFC, Tuivasa has looked like he could become not only a contender in the heavyweight division but a marketable fighter along the lines of his training partner, Mark Hunt.

Tuivasa (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) fights for the first time outside of Australia at UFC 225 where he meets ex-heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. Arlovski (27-15 MMA, 16-9 UFC), who has 14…