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UFC 225 Betting Recap
UFC 225 Betting Results

Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero waged an Instant Classic in Saturday’s UFC 225 headliner at United Center in Chicago. It was a non-title bout due to Romero missing weight by merely 0.2 pounds because he inexplicably wasn’t allowed to continue his weight cut with an hour remaining on Friday.

That was a decision made by the head of the Illinois Athletic Commission, not the doctor who was observing what was going on. Then in a decision that was certainly deemed controversial, Whittaker was given the split-decision nod by the judges (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).

The UFC recently adopted new rules that encourage judges to be more willing to reward scores of 10-8 in rounds where one fighter really dominates. Well, one could argue that Romero had two such stanzas, yet there were zero 10-8’s from the three judges.

According to MMADecisions.com, 15 media members scored the fight for Romero with five of those 15 posting 48-46 scores. Factor those five with the seven draws and you have 12 media members out of 27 who had Romero with a 10-8 advantage in one round. Only five of 27 press members scored the fight in favor of Whittaker.

VegasInsider.com had it 47-47 for a draw. 5Dimes.eu had a proposition wager that paid 80/1 odds for the fight to end in a draw. VI had Rounds 1, 2 and 4 for Whittaker, while Romero won Rounds 3 and 5 with the fifth being a 10-8.

The middleweight champ won the first two rounds by being much more active offensively. Romero, seemingly looking to pace himself for a 25-minute war, appeared content to look for his spots and conserve his energy in the early going.

A stiff jab from the New Zealander in the second wrecked Romero’s right eye and caused enormous swelling instantly. This space must give credit galore to his corner for doing a great job treating the eye. In fact, the UFC’s announcing trio was speculating that his vision out of the eye could be shot for the rest of the fight and it could be a situation where the doctor might even stop the bout (eventually). And those remarks didn’t seem to be hyperbole at the time (between the second and third).

Whatever the case, all concern about Romero’s eye was eliminated in the first 10 seconds of Round 3. Romero floored Whittaker with a huge right hook. The 41-year-old Cuban who was a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Olympics swarmed for the finish. Whittaker was in total survival mode, diving in on a leg for a takedown unsuccessfully.

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Romero landed an uppercut, followed by multiple elbows. At this point, he was going all out for the finish. Just when it looked like Whittaker was wilting, he countered with a big elbow. Romero began working the body with punches, but Whittaker responded with a knee to the body that backed Romero up. The rest of the round was utter chaos. Romero continued to attack, scoring a takedown and landing lefts from the top, but Whittaker survived the round. VI scored it 10-9 since Whittaker did mount some offense that slowed Romero’s attack, and he wasn’t saved by the bell as he got back to his feet after the late takedown.

Whittaker got our nod in the fourth, as he continued to pepper Romero’s legs with kicks. At this point, he wasn’t throwing his right hand at all. He had injured it in the opening round and broken it in the third. Romero seemed to be catching his wind early in the fourth, but he found it later in the stanza. It was a close round, but we felt Whittaker came forward and landed more.

Romero staggered Whittaker again early in the fifth with a combination. Then he dropped him with a monster right and for several moments, it appeared Whittaker was done as he turtled on the ground. The referee gave him time to recover, however. Perhaps fearing the fight was about to be called, Whittaker grabbed a leg and Romero battered his body with punches. The champ desperately struggled to get up, demonstrating incredible heart. He eventually found his way back to his feet somehow.

But then Romero landed a knee and tripped him to the canvas. Whittaker fought back to his feet and then spit out a good chunk of blood. Romero scored another takedown but with both men exhausted, the ref stood them up with 35 ticks left. With the crowd on its feet, both men attempted attacks, but a spinning move by Romero missed before the bell sounded.

The crowd disapproved of the decision. Whittaker told Joe Rogan in his postfight interview, “[Romero] hits like a truck!” Romero said, “I did not lose tonight in my humble opinion.”

Whittaker’s nine-fight winning streak is the sixth-longest among active fighters. Who knows how long he’s out with the broken hand? Also, Dana White said in his media scrum that former champ Chris Weidman is still injured and that Kelvin Gastelum “has some personal issues that he needs to deal with right away.” Finally, White indicated that Romero moving up to light heavyweight is probably a good idea, and a title-eliminator bout with Alexander Gustafsson sounds like a great idea. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect to see the middleweight strap on the line again in the next 4-5 months at least.

In the co-main event, Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington’ backed up all his brash talk by taking it to Rafael dos Anjos to win a unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) for the interim welterweight belt. Covington cashed tickets as favorite in the -140 range.

He’ll face 170-pound champ Tyron Woodley later this year. Of course, Covington didn’t mince words for Woodley afterward, telling Rogan, “Tyron Woodley, you’re a friggen’ coward. Why did you let this filthy little animal take this ass whooping tonight? It was supposed to be you. You can’t run. You can hide anymore. I’m coming for you.”

As he promised all week, Covington confirmed he’ll be delivering his belt to President Donald Trump and placing it on his desk in the Oval Office at the White House. When White was asked by the media about that later, White said, “Yes, I can make that happen for him.”

Covington’s pace was relentless throughout the 25 minutes vs. RDA. Dos Anjos had his moments, but he could never get in a groove with his striking due to Covington’s constant pressure.

Holly Holm dominated Megan Anderson in a women’s featherweight showdown, winning by UD (30-27, 30-26 twice) as a -180 ‘chalk.’ She demonstrated her improvement and growth by using a lot of wrestling in the bout. She wants to move back down to 135 for her next fight if the Amanda Nunes-Cris Cyborg superfight doesn’t come to fruition, Holm is the best choice to challenge Nunes for the belt Holm used to own.

Tai Tuivasa remained unbeaten, but he got all he wanted and then some from former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski. Tuivasa, who had won his seven previous fights by first-round KOs, won a UD (29-28 across). Arlovski showed he has plenty left in the tank at the age of 39, although his quest for a third straight win came up short. Tuivasa won as a heavy -240 favorite.

The CM Punk experiment came to an end in the main card’s opener. Mike Jackson defeated Punk as a -200 favorite, winning by UD (30-26 across) in a snoozer. The former pro wrestler showed a lot of heart and toughness, however. He never gave up and came forward for most of the fight.

As for Jackson, White made it clear that he would never step into the Octagon again. White felt he clowned around rather than attempting to finish the fight. “He showed he’s a complete fu***ing idiot. He made me regret not having that fight on FightPass.” On Punk, White added, “He’s almost 40. We gave him two chances, so that’s a wrap.”

In the prelims headliner on Fox Sports 1, fourth-ranked heavyweight Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes won his fourth straight fight and made a case for a title shot by finishing second-ranked Alistair Overeem by third-round KO.

Blaydes dominated most of the fight with his wrestling, but he showed his hands and stand-up skills with a world-class striker at times. The Chicago native finished the 38-year-old legend with a ground-and-pound elbows. Referee Dan Murgliata was late on the stoppage and the final elbow, one that should’ve never happened, sent blood pouring from Overeem’s nose.

Claudia Gadelha, the two-time challenger for the women’s strawweight belt, was the largest favorite (-500 at William Hill, but -280ish at many spots) on the card. However, Carla Esparza gave her fits for 15 minutes. Gadelha won a split decision.

In a featherweight match, 11th-ranked Mirsad Bektic handed seventh-ranked Ricardo ‘The Bully’ Lamas a second straight defeat. Bektic won by split decision as a -240 ‘chalk.’

In the headliner of UFC FightPass prelims, Anthony Smith handed former LHW champ Rashad Evans his fifth straight loss. Smith needed only 53 seconds to dispose of Evans, connecting with a thunderous knee out of a clinch situation. The knee floored Evans and then Smith landed a pair of subsequent punches -before the referee intervened.

Smith won as a -220 ‘chalk,’ while bettors on ‘under’ 2.5 rounds cashed tickets at a -120 price. Props on Smith to win inside the distance (+110), in Round 1 (+250) and by TKO/KO (+132) were easy winners.

Evans has clearly held on too long. He should’ve retired several fights ago. White told the media that he had a good talk with Evans afterward and sensed that ‘Suga’ was almost certainly going to retire. Smith offered plenty of props to Evans for his sensational career that dates back to Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter.

Sergio Pettis captured a split-decision victory over No. 1 flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez as a +180 underdog. In the opening minute of the first round, Pettis dropped Benavidez with a strong right and followed up with subsequent punches that appeared to have Benavidez in trouble. However, once he got back to his feet and recovered, Benavidez swarmed in for a successful takedown.

But Pettis was quicker to the punch in most of the standing exchanges over 15 minutes. He was the biggest ‘dog to cash on the card.

Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira defeated Clay Guida in a lightweight scrap by a first-round submission. Oliveria, who had gone 1-3 in his past four outings, took the bout on less than two weeks of notice after Bobby ‘King’ Green pulled out due to an injury.

Oliveira hooked up his betting supporters as a -155 favorite. He hurt Guida with several punches that backed ‘The Carpenter’ up against the fence. In somewhat desperation mode, Guida shot for a takedown and got instantly caught in a nasty guillotine choke that ended the scrap.

**B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets**

-- We have two serious candidates for Fight of the Year right now: Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje and Whittaker-Romero II.

-- Other winners on the card were heavyweight Chris De La Rocha (-105 over Rashad Coulter) and Dan Ige (-120 over Mike Santiago).

-- It was announced Saturday that former women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame later this year. She’ll become the first female to be enshrined. Without question, there’s no man or woman more deserving of such an honor. Rousey’s amazing run as champ brought so many female fans to the sport that might have never entertained watching an MMA event otherwise. With that said, Rousey STILL hasn’t once taken questions or conducted the first interview with an MMA journalist since losing to Holly Holm at UFC 193. She recently said, “Why should I talk? I believe hearing me speak is a privilege, and it’s a privilege that’s been abused, so why not revoke it from everyone?” Oh, now I get it. Ha! Seriously, dude? So as she’s inducted into the UFC Hall later this year, I simply have one question, will she belatedly offer the MMA media, the same writers that helped propel her to stardom while things were going great and she was winning fights, be granted the enormous honor of ‘hearing her speak’ about her final two fights in the Octagon? (I doubt it!)

-- Miesha Tate, another former UFC women’s bantamweight champ, and Cris Cyborg, the current women’s flyweight queenpin, understandably had harsh words for Rousey over her unfathomable remarks. Tate, by the way, gave birth to her daughter this past week after a grueling 67-hour labor process.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

  
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