The UFC returns to Chicago for the first time in nearly two years when UFC 225 takes place at the United Center in June. So, who will they bring to headline their first ever pay-per-view event in the Windy City?
Putting on a top-tier event in one of the biggest media markets in the country sounds like the perfect way to lead into the promotion’s biggest PPV event of 2018. That’s exactly what the UFC will be doing this summer with UFC 225 and 226.
The pay-per-view event follows five previous UFC on Fox events in Chicago. From 2012-2016, the promotion held events featuring main events fights such as Shevchenko-Holm, Dillashaw-Barao 2, and Henderson-Thomson. For UFC 225, we’re expecting a little bit more from matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard.
Much of the main event picture for the first half of the year for the promotion’s PPVs is set. Chicago’s event is one that remains a bit of a mystery. So, we decided to take a look at the available options for the promotion heading into the midwest’s biggest UFC event of 2018. The headliners will be joined by a couple of already announced bouts, featuring strawweights Claudia Gadelha and Carla Esparza, and flyweight Joseph Benavidez returning from injury to take on Sergio Pettis.
There’s also a reported bout between heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes slated for the card.
With the bounty of announced headliners already in place, there are several title-bouts we can scratch from potentially serving as the UFC 225 main event.
At UFC 222 in Las Vegas, Cris Cyborg is defending her featherweight title against promotional newcomer Yana Kunitskaya. That probably takes one of the UFC’s biggest draws off of the table for Chicago, regardless of the outcome. A couple of other high-profile bouts will take place shortly thereafter at UFC 223 in Brooklyn.
Headlined by a lightweight title-fight (which one?) featuring interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, UFC 223 is looking like one of the best PPVs of the year already. And that’s before even mentioning the strawweight title-rematch between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The rest of the card is nothing to sneeze at either. But, we’re still hoping the main event stays intact; we’ve been teased enough.
Another women’s title will reportedly be up for grabs at UFC 224 in Brazil. Amanda Nunes will attempt to defend her belt for the third time against top-contender Raquel Pennington. The bout was originally slated for the end of 2017, but an accident forced Pennington out of action. In May, it’ll be her first bout since she defeated former champ Miesha Tate at UFC 205.
Max Holloway’s featherweight title will probably be on hold as well, with the likeliest contenders fighting each other at UFC 222. Frankie Edgar has been slated for a shot at Holloway twice, but will now have to go through Brian Ortega for that title-shot to remain his. The most recent matchup was dropped due to a Holloway injury, but he’ll be back by the end of 2018.
Oh, and there’s that superfight between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 226 that we all can’t wait for. Don’t forget about that.
If the promotion prefers to have four consecutive pay-per-view events featuring one of their women’s titles on the line, the second ever women’s flyweight title-bout could be at UFC 225. However, Nicco Montaño versus Valentina Shevchenko isn’t exactly the kind of fight that belongs in the main event of a PPV. Shevchenko has headlined one Chicago UFC event in the past, defeating Holly Holm at UFC on Fox in July of 2016. But this is probably a better fit as a co-main event on a future PPV.
The two most likely main event options come at welterweight and middleweight. At 170-pounds, Tyron Woodley could be ready to return from his shoulder issues by June. The bigger question is who his next opponent will be.
Top-ranked contender Rafael dos Anjos seems like the easy choice. The former lightweight champ has successfully transitioned to welterweight, going 3-0 since making the move last summer. But, there’s Nate Diaz. Inarguably the much bigger draw, it’s hard to imagine the promotion turning down Woodley-Diaz, despite Dana White’s claims to the contrary. Either way, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Woodley defending his belt at UFC 225.
At middleweight, Robert Whittaker sounds like he’s readying for his rematch with Yoel Romero. Coming off of an injury, and a bout with staph, the New Zealand native has signalled his desire to compete in Chicago.
— Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) February 25, 2018
It’s an easy fight to sell, although the first bout between the two sold less than 200K buys last summer. With the rest of the card loooking pretty solid, it’s easy to see how a rematch this summer could do better. How much better remains to be seen, especially with potentially more lucrative options at welterweight.
If the promotion really wants to “go for it” at UFC 225, there’s a “superfight” they could utilize for the main event. Yeah, the bout between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and bantamweight title-holder TJ Dillashaw. It’s more likely headed toward UFC 226 in July, but it would be able to headline a well-built card like Chicago’s just fine.
We may not know who is headlining UFC 225, but we know the promotion will put on a great event. The bouts already been announced are top-notch. We don’t doubt more are on the way for Chicago’s first UFC PPV. Ultimately, we’re going to go with the middleweight title-rematch between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero for our prediction. But, based off of the options available, we aren’t going to be disappointed. Even if CM Punk is there.
Let us know who you think will be fighting in the main event of UFC 225, and who you want to headline the card! Comment below, reply to us on Twitter, or comment on Facebook!