By Rich Plunkett 07/06/18
UFC 225 takes place this weekend, in Chicago, Illinois. Stacked with talent, the card looks to be one of the best pay-per-view events of 2018. Proceedings for the night ahead include a little bit of everything: two championship bouts, elite female fighters, former champions up against future stars and of course, CM Punk. Six of the fighters taking part have at some stage held a UFC title and there is every chance another two will make good of their opportunity. Three out of the ten fighters included on the main card are Australian, which is a great sign for Aussie MMA and the sport in general. One of those fighters, Tai Tuivasa, is up against former heavyweight champ, Andrei Arlovski.
Tuivasa has been tearing through everyone he has matched up against. His professional record to date is flawless. He has fought seven times, with seven wins and seven knockouts. Oh, and they have all come in the first round of the fight. He has stated already that he thinks the heavyweight division is boring and he seems to be on a mission to do his best to change this.
Ranked #12, “Bam Bam” is looking for his first win against a top ten opponent. His style as a heavyweight is everything you want to see in a man that weighs 265 pounds. He has finished opponents with his hands, elbows and knees. He has defended 100% of takedowns attempted against him in the promotion and has never bothered to attempt a takedown of his own. Why would you, when you can bang the way he does?
Arlovski is on a two fight win streak and is gathering momentum again after four straight losses dating back to the beginning of 2016. Three of those TKO losses were against Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou, respectively. All of these fighters went on to fight for the belt, while Arlovski kept toiling away until he eventually found himself in the winner’s column once again. He was beaten badly by some of the scariest dudes in the division, but at the same time, it’s fair to say that he was just a bee’s proverbial away from getting a title shot of his own.
Now ranked #9, although higher than his opponent, he will again be considered the underdog in this matchup. His wrestling has improved of late, while his footwork has looked the best it has been for some time. His last fight, against 7’0’’ Stefan Struve, showcased this. Keeping out of range from Struve’s enormous 84.5 inch reach is no easy task for any ordinary member of the human race.
If “The Pitbull” is to win on Saturday night, he has to make this a real dogfight. Using his wrestling advantage in close and inside leg kicks on the outside, for as much of the 15 minutes allocated to this fight. His cardio is still there, but he has not finished anybody in three years, so his best chance here is a win via judges decision.
I don’t see this happening. Arlovski’s speed and chin are on the way out and Tuivasa is a nightmare matchup for him. “Bam Bam” is about to go “wham bam thank you ma’am”. He’ll probably pocket another 50k and he might even drink a beer out of a shoe again on his way out of the arena.
Tuivasa by KO in the first round.