UFC is really hotting up this summer and there are several fights for MMA fans to sit back and enjoy watching at upcoming events. We’ve picked out six that you can’t afford to miss if you love the octagon.
Whittaker v Romero 2 (UFC 225)
A hotly anticipated rematch for the UFC Middleweight Championship between holder Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero headlines UFC 225 in the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on the night of Saturday, June 9.
Whittaker hails from Down Under and won their initial encounter at UFC 213 by unanimous decision. Veteran Cuban challenger Romero is the older man and had an earlier career in freestyle wrestling, winning a silver medal in the 85kg category at the Summer Olympics at Sydney back in 2000.
Romero bounced back from just his second MMA loss in the first fight with Whittaker last July when he knocked out Luke Rockhold in the third round of their UFC 221 clash over in Perth, Australia in February.
Whittaker hasn’t lost a fight since 2014 and his octagon record is 19-4. This is the first time he’s been in action since the judges all sided with him over Romero and the betting suggests he’ll win again at 1/2. Whittaker is 19/10 to lose the middleweight strap.
Holly Holm v Megan Anderson (UFC 225)
Also on the UFC 225 card is a women’s featherweight between Holly Holm and Megan Anderson. New Mexico native Holm is the MMA fighter who ended Ronda Rousey’s dominance inside the Octagon, yet she herself has only won one bout from five since.
Holm is now 11-4 in the sport and lost the UFC Women’s Bantamweight belt on her first defense. Her luck has been no better at featherweight either after being defeated by Cris Cyborg via unanimous decision with that other strap on the line when last in action back at UFC 219 in December.
Australian opponent Anderson is making her long-awaited UFC debut here and brings an Octagon record of 8-2 into the promotion. All of her last four victories have come via TKO, so she is certainly in-form, whereas Holm is not.
Despite losing four of her last five fights, bookmakers suggest you side with Holm’s greater experience as she’s odds-on to beat Anderson. The Aussie is rated 19/10 to upset the favorite and it cannot be entirely ruled out.
CM Punk v Mike Jackson (UFC 225)
Former WWE Champion CM Punk steps back in the octagon for a second crack at MMA in his hometown of Chicago against fellow American fighter Mike Jackson.
Seven years ago, across the city in the Allstate Arena (formerly the Rosemont Horizon), Punk infamously quit wrestling, leaving with the title after defeating John Cena in front of a partisan home crowd. It was only a storyline but made a real splash.
When Punk actually left a wrestling ring for good to come to UFC, however, he found it’s a whole different ball game as he lost his Octagon debut to Mickey Gall in the first round via submission. That was back at UFC 203 in September 2016 and it’s to be hoped nearly two years of more-focused MMA training means he’ll perform better this time.
Jackson, meanwhile, also lost on his UFC debut to Gall via submission and didn’t last as long as Punk. One of them is going to get that monkey off their back here though.
According to oddsmakers on Oddschecker, Jackson is favorite in the UFC betting on this fight because of his amateur background. His MMA bout with Nick Felder before turning pro went to the judges, leaving Punk as the 15/8 outsider to score victory at the second attempt.
Rafael dos Anjos v Colby Covington
Punk v Jackson is only the appetizer in the welterweight division before the main course of former UFC Lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos taking on California’s Colby Covington. The winner will be the interim champion of this weight category.
Covington uses his amateur wrestling background inside the Octagon and has a promising MMA career record of 13-1 coming into this fairly even looking contest. Brazil’s RDA, meanwhile, is ranked number one in the welterweight division after moving up last year.
Dos Anjos is three from three in this current weight category, so don’t read too much into his overall Octagon record of 28-9. His striking and Muay Thai experience leaves him as a dangerous opponent for Covington.
The betting shows you just how closely matched these two are. Covington is the narrowest of favorites to win this battle for welterweight supremacy, but it’d be no surprise to see RDA maintain his unbeaten streak since stepping up.
Stipe Miocic v Daniel Cormier (UFC 226)
MMA is back in Vegas on the night of July 7 and the main event of UFC 226 is scheduled to be a heavyweight championship battle between holder Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight counterpart Daniel Cormier. The latter is trying to follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s Conor McGregor as a two-division champ.
Cormier is the fourth defense for heavyweight kingpin Miocic since he won the title in Brazil back at UFC 198 in May 2016. If successful, then the Ohio native will make promotion history as the man to have made most defenses of the premier MMA belt.
Bookmakers are certainly backing Miocic to do just that as he’s the odds-on favorite to thwart Cormier’s attempt at stepping up a category. Both men have failed to win two fights inside the Octagon, yet Louisana’s light heavyweight hero is a big betting outsider to triumph here.
Height and age are on Miocic’s side for this encounter, but there’s very little in it in terms of UFC experience. This is being billed as superfight, though there looks to be only one winner. It’ll be a big shock if Cormier can somehow dethrone Miocic in the T-Mobile Arena on The Strip.
Max Holloway v Brian Ortega (UFC 226)
Undisputed men’s featherweight champ Max Holloway had two memorable battles with Jose Aldo to unify the division last year, but his next assignment is a defense against the unbeaten Brian Ortega at UFC 226. Only one of the challenger’s 15 MMA fights to date was ruled a no contest after he initially won that contest but then tested positive for a banned substance, leaving him a serious threat that’s not to be underestimated.
If Hawaii’s Holloway put together consecutive victories over an established MMA star like Aldo, though, he’s entitled to plenty of respect. As the active competitor with the most UFC wins at featherweight, Holloway was last beaten inside the Octagon by McGregor in August 2013.
Ortega and not Frankie Edgar, who was knocked out in the first round by the Los Angeles native at UFC 222 back in March, is now Holloway’s main rival in the division. This could go either way, though Holloway is fancied to carry on his dominance.
Mexican-American Ortega leapfrogged Edgar, who had injury problems that led to a fight with Holloway being cancelled, into contention and cannot be regarded as a big betting outsider. The market sides with the champ, yet the challenger is a tempting price to take the featherweight strap for himself in Vegas.