A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 225 on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Robert Whittaker (20-4) vs. Yoel Romero (13-2)
Line: Whittaker -240
Storyline: This was supposed to be a rematch for Whittaker’s middleweight belt, but Romero failed to make weight Friday so the title is no longer on the line. Whittaker won a close fight in the first meeting in July despite Romero injuring Whittaker’s knee early with a kick. The champion has not fought since that night, as he healed from the injury and then endured a case of staph infection. Romero is incredibly strong and a high-level athlete. He tends to get a bit less dangerous as the fight wears on, though he has recorded a few late stoppages. A big question could be how much the weight cut affected Romero.
Hill’s pick: Romero by second-round knockout
Fang’s pick: Whittaker by decision
Rafael dos Anjos (28-9) vs. Colby Covington (13-1)
Class: For interim welterweight title
Line: Covington -130
Storyline: Covington has quickly become one of the UFC’s most hated fighters. He is the real-life personification of an anonymous Twitter troll. Dos Anjos repeatedly has said that he looks forward to shutting up Covington. Dos Anjos has had issues with wrestlers, but he has looked comfortable and confident since moving up to 170 pounds from 155, where he was the champion. His experience in the spotlight could be a big edge against Covington, who is making a big step up. Look for dos Anjos to try to use leg kicks to wear Covington down early.
Hill’s pick: Dos Anjos by decision
Fang’s pick: Dos Anjos by third-round knockout
Holly Holm (11-4) vs. Megan Anderson (8-2)
Class: Women’s featherweights
Line: Holm -220
Storyline: Anderson will make her long-awaited UFC debut, but not against champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino as expected. Instead, the former Invicta champion will fight a former world boxing champion and former UFC women’s bantamweight champ. Holm has struggled with inconsistency since her knockout of Ronda Rousey in 2015. Anderson hasn’t fought since January 2017.
Hill’s pick: Holm by decision
Fang’s pick: Holm by second-round knockout
Andrei Arlovski (27-15, 1 No Contest) vs. Tai Tuivasa (7-0)
Line: Tuivasa -230
Storyline: Arlovski was the heavyweight champion in 2006. His career looked to be over, as he lost five straight fights, but he has won the past two to get a bout against an undefeated rising star. Tuivasa has knocked out all seven opponents in the first round, including two in the UFC. The former rugby player is big and quick for his size. He has all the makings of a future champion.
Hill’s pick: Tuivasa by first-round knockout
Fang’s pick: Tuivasa by third-round knockout
Phil “CM Punk” Brooks (0-1) vs. Mike Jackson (0-1)
Line: Jackson -225
Storyline: Brooks, who fought in the WWE under the name “CM Punk,” is getting a second chance in the UFC. He made his debut in 2016, when he was smothered by newcomer Mickey Gall, who has proven to be far better than expected. Brooks will get another chance against Jackson, a part-time fighter who also lost his only pro fight to Gall. It’s difficult to judge either fighter by their performance against Gall, who easily handled both. Brooks also just went through an exhausting trial that he won this week when a jury ruled in his favor in a defamation case filed by a WWE doctor. He might be worn down or rejuvenated by the legal victory.
Hill’s pick: Brooks by decision
Fang’s pick: Jackson by second-round knockout