UFC 225 Best Bets
June 8, 2018
By Brian Edwards
How deep is Saturday’s UFC 225 card at the United Center in Chicago? A former light-heavyweight champion (Rashad Evans), a former title challenger and current No. 1 flyweight contender (Joseph Benavidez) and a sure-to-be exciting lightweight scrap between hometown underdog Clay Guida and Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira are buried on the FightPass prelims.
There were supposed to be two title fights, including the main event between middleweight champ Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. However, Romero missed weight by merely 0.2 pounds when he tipped the scales at 185.2 pounds.
For title fights, the one-pound allowance is not granted. Romero’s initial weigh-in was 186 pounds. He was then given two extra hours to shed one pound. According to tweets from MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani, the head of the Illinois Athletic Commission overruled a doctor on the scene and forced Romero to quit cutting weight one hour into the two-hour time frame.
That’s when he went to the scale and came up 0.2 pounds short. His camp was reportedly upset and felt if given the other hour he was supposed to be granted, Romero would’ve hit his mark. He confirmed this in his interview with Joe Rogan at the ceremonial weigh-ins early Friday night. “I don’t why the Commission decided not to give me the two hours,” Romero said.
Whittaker still wanted to fight and wasn’t interested in putting weight restrictions on Romero for Saturday (like we saw with Darren Till vs. ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in Liverpool two weeks ago). The main event will still take place, although Whittaker’s strap won’t be on the line.
Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) was a -220 favorite for most of this week. As of early Friday night, the number was up into the -250/260 range. Romero was the +210 underdog (risk $100 to win $210). The total was 4.5 rounds (‘under’ -165, ‘over’ +145).
Whittaker has won eight consecutive fights since losing by first-round knockout to Thompson at UFC 170. His only other defeat in the Octagon came against Court McGee by split decision in August of 2013. The 27-year-old New Zealander is 7-0 since moving up from welterweight to the 185-pound loop. In Whittaker’s past seven fights, he has garnered three Performance of the Night bonuses and participated in three Fights of the Night.
Whittaker won the interim middleweight belt by beating Romero by unanimous decision (48-47 across) at UFC 213 in Las Vegas last July. He became the undisputed champ when Georges St. Pierre relinquished the title due to an illness.
Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) became the first fighter in UFC history to miss weight for two championship bouts. Since dropping the decision loss to Whittaker, Romero bounced back to beat former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold by third-round KO at UFC 221. The 41-year-old has notable career wins over the likes of former champ Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza, former LHW champ Lyoto Machida, Tim Kennedy and Derek Brunson.
Prediction: I believe Whittaker will win but have too much respect for Romero to risk such an expensive price. I’ll PASS.
In the co-main event, former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC) takes on Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington for the interim welterweight strap and for the chance to unseat 170-pound kingpin Tyron Woodley. As of early Friday evening, most books had Covington listed as a -135 ‘chalk,’ leaving RDA at +105 on the comeback. The total was 4.5 rounds (‘over’ -140, ‘under’ +120).
Dos Anjos is tied for sixth in UFC history with his 17 wins inside the Octagon. Since moving up to welterweight from 155, RDA has a 3-0 record with victories over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler, the division’s former champ. RDA also owns career scalps over Donald Cerrone (twice), Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz, Ben Henderson and Evan Dunham.
Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) is a former wrestler at Oregon State University where he was an All-American and two-time Pac-10 champ. He trains at American Top Team in South Florida and has a lot of Chael Sonnen in him. Covington talks trash to everybody and has repeatedly called Brazilians “filthy animals.”
Covington has won five straight fights to surge into contention since losing by submission to Warley Alves at UFC 194.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call. I’ll go with RDA for merely one-half unit at +125 (5Dimes.eu) odds.
-- Give me two units on Clay Guida as a +130 home underdog (William Hill) versus Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira, who is 1-3 in his past four fights and took this fight on less than two weeks of notice. Oliveira is replacing the injured Bobby ‘King’ Green. Guida has won back-to-back fights. His last loss came in gut-wrenching fashion, as he had clearly won the first two rounds against current No. 1 featherweight contender Brian Ortega, who defeated Guida with a flying-knee KO with only 20 seconds remaining in the bout. Since then, ‘The Carpenter’ has moved back up to the lightweight division.
-- I’ll go with two units on UNDER 1.5 rounds at a -145 price (SportsInt.) in the main-card heavyweight matchup between Tai Tuivasa and Andrei Arlovski. Also, I like the proposition wager for Tuivasa to win by TKO/KO for one unit at a -146 price and one unit on Tuivasa to win in Round 1 for even money (+100).
-- Let’s go with two units on UNDER 1.5 rounds (+140 at BetOnline.ag) for Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes. Also, give me one-half unit on Overeem as a +167 ‘dog (5Dimes).
-- Ricardo Lamas is in bounce-back mode as a +220 underdog vs. Mirsad Bektic in a featherweight showdown. Lamas, who is 9-4 in the UFC, was finished by first-round KO by Josh Emmett his last time out. His only career L’s have come against former champ Jose Aldo, current champ Max Holloway, three-time title challenger Chad Mendes and Emmett. This is a big step up in class for Bektic. I like Lamas at one unit for the +220 return at 5Dimes.
**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**
-- Fighters who have missed weight have posted a 7-1 record in 2018.
-- I went into deeper detail on each of my picks on my Games Galore 38 podcast that dropped on Thursday. It can be found at BrianEdwardsSports.com.
-- Holly Holm, the former women’s bantamweight champ, is facing Megan Anderson as a -180 ‘chalk’ in the first women’s featherweight non-title fight. However, she indicated this week that bantamweight is “her home” and plans on moving back down for her next bout.
-- In an interview with Helwani this week, Covington issued an “unformal apology” to Rogan, who had said on his podcast that Covington should be careful about talking trash to Jon Jones, the former LHW champ who was Covington’s roommate in college. Covington claimed in a recent interview that he was best friends with Jones initially, but that changed when Jones “started doing ecstasy in college and steroids that had him acting out with ‘roid rage.” Covington had said he was going to slap Rogan when he saw him in Chicago this weekend.
-- Another quote from Covington about a possible future matchup with current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley, “I’m always up for an easy fight like one with Woodley.”
-- Covington has also promised to take the welterweight belt he plans on winning Saturday and delivering it to President Donald Trump at the White House.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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