It’s no secret that mixed martial arts is a brutal sport. Top fighters can’t get into the Octagon more than a couple of times per year or their careers would be very short. Thus, UFC cards can vary in how good they are because there are only so many big names and title fights to go around.
The UFC 224 card last month in Brazil wasn’t great. However, this Saturday’s UFC 225 from Chicago looks to be one of the deepest of 2018 and features two title fights.
The headline fight is middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (19-4) defending his belt in a rematch against No. 1 contender Yoel Romero (13-2). The Aussie Whittaker is a -240 favorite on the UFC 225 odds with Romero, from the United States by way of Cuba, at +190. All UFC title/headline fights are scheduled for five rounds.
When Whittaker and Romero fought at UFC 213 in July 2017, Whittaker won by unanimous decision– all three judges scored it 48-47 – to win the interim middleweight belt. That ended an eight-fight winning streak for Romero, including victories over the likes of Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida.
Romero has fought since, beating former champion Luke Rockhold by brutal third-round knockout in February to earn another title shot. At age 41, this might be the last chance for the “Soldier of God.”
Whittaker, just 27 and a rare Australian champion in the UFC, has not fought since. He was supposed to fight Rockhold in February but had to pull out due to illness, replaced by Romero – who actually missed weight for the bout and thus wasn’t able to claim interim title status.
Whittaker was elevated to the official middleweight champion late in 2017 when Georges St-Pierre beat champ Bisping but then dropped the belt because he couldn’t defend due to health issues.
In the co-main event, former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos takes on Colby Covington for the interim welterweight title, with dos Anjos at -120 and Covington at -110. The undisputed welterweight champion is Tyron Woodley, with dos Anjos ranked No. 1 in the division and Covington No. 4. The winner should face Woodley, who is coming off shoulder surgery, later this year.
Dos Anjos-Covington originally was targeted for UFC 224. Since losing the lightweight belt to Eddie Alvarez in July 2016 and then losing to Tony Ferguson in November of that year, dos Anjos (28-9) is 3-0 since moving to welterweight. The only loss for Covington (13-1), a former NCAA wrestler, was to Warlley Alves at UFC 194.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Source: Heavy Sports