UFC 222 has been saved.
Many fans were concerned about the future of the UFC’s upcoming pay-per-view card in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Max Holloway was forced to withdraw from his fight with Frankie Edgar after experiencing an injury. In typical Edgar fashion, he put his name forward to remain on the card and will now face the next top contender in the division, Brian Ortega. It might be a risky move by Edgar, who was originally scheduled to face Holloway in a UFC Featherweight Championship bout, but it is a move that is respected by the organization and fans. Edgar vs. Ortega will be the co-main event at UFC 222.
However, what managed to save the pay-per-view is a UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship matchup between Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya. When the Holloway vs. Edgar bout was removed from the card, the UFC desperately attempted to fill the spot with another title fight. Thanks to Cyborg and Kunitskaya, the organization can showcase a title matchup.
Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Cris Cyborg (19-1) is undoubtedly the best female to have ever competed in the sport north of 145 lbs. There’s even an argument for her being the greatest female in the sport, regardless of weight class. After losing her first-ever contest, Cyborg has since won 19 consecutive fights including her four most recent in the UFC. In her last time in the UFC’s Octagon, Holly Holm took Cyborg to the scorecards for the first time since 2008. Cyborg defended her title successfully that night and managed a “Fight of the Night” award with Holm for her efforts.
Yana Kunitskaya (10-3) is a 28-year-old Russian competitor who will be making her first appearance in the UFC’s Octagon. Kunitskaya won the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship in her most recent fight when she defeated Raquel Pa’aluhi in August last year.
Overall, Kunitskaya should be out of her league in this matchup with Cyborg. It’s hard to see Cyborg letting this one last any longer than it should, and she might get the job done early in the first or second round.
Prediction: Cris Cyborg by KO/TKO – Round One
Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
As mentioned above, Frankie Edgar (21-5) and Brian Ortega (13-0) is a result of unfortunate circumstances. Well, unfortunate for Edgar and maybe fortunate for Ortega.
After defeating Cub Swanson with a brilliant submission, the undefeated Brian Ortega looked set to challenge the winner of Holloway vs. Edgar. But now, Ortega can jump the line and get a shot at Holloway before anyone else if he defeats Edgar at UFC 222.
For Frankie Edgar, well he has potentially given up his spot at the front of the line to save the card. The last time we saw Edgar was in May 2017 when he pummeled the rising Yair Rodriguez. He defeated the prospect so badly that Rodriguez has seemingly disappeared for the time being. That win marked two in a row for Edgar after he defeated Jeremy Stephens at UFC 205.
Ortega is the real deal and has some of the slickest submission abilities in all of MMA right now. But this fight has all the makings of another beatdown from the experienced Edgar.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision
Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
Don’t be sleeping on this matchup, because this is must-watch mixed martial arts.
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley (8-0) has been a star attraction ever since he came through Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last year. With his confident and strangely relaxed attitude, he has used his incredible length and power to defeat all eight of his opponents so far. He defeated Terrion Ware via unanimous decision in his UFC debut in December.
Andre Soukhamthath (12-5) recently picked up a monumental win in his career when he defeated Luke Sanders at UFC Fight Night 123 in December. The win snapped a two-fight losing streak that he had experienced when arriving in the UFC. But still, after dropping two split decisions, Soukhamthath is in desperate need of a victory here if he wants any chance of rising the rankings in the UFC one day.
Prediction: Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision
Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski
In what was originally billed as the co-main event (somehow), Stefan Struve will meet Andrei Arlovski in a heavyweight clash between two fading stars.
Struve (32-9) is coming off a loss to Alexander Volkov and is seemingly losing a lot of his durability inside the Octagon. He still has the same old troubles of not being able to use his humongous frame appropriately, but despite being relatively washed up, he’s not as washed up as Arlovski.
Despite many people writing Arlovski (26-15) off after five (!!!) consecutive defeats, he still found a way to defeat Junior Albini at UFC Fight Night 120. Don’t go expecting a major turnaround here for Arlovski; it’s more the fact that Albini wasn’t ready for someone of Arlovski’s quality – regardless of whether he is half of what he used to be.
Prediction: Stefan Struve by KO/TKO – Round 1
Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira
Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira is the fight to get everything started at UFC 222. Cat Zingano (9-2) hasn’t won since September 2014. Since then, Zingano was defeated by Ronda Rousey in just 14 seconds and then suffered a defeat to Julianna Pena at UFC 200. It’s easy to forget, though, that Zingano was tearing through elite competition before these two losses as she had defeated Amanda Nunes (current champion), Miesha Tate (former champion) and Raquel Pennington (top contender). Let’s not give up on Zingano just yet.
Zingano will be up against Ketlen Vieira (9-0) who has been enjoying a tremendous run in the UFC since joining in late 2016. Vieira has won all three of her contests so far and will be hoping to use Zingano as a stepping stone up to the top-ranked competition in the division.
Prediction: Cat Zingano by unanimous decision
UFC 222 Fight Card
UFC 222 begins on UFC Fight Pass from 6:30 pm ET (11:30 pm GMT) on Saturday, March 3.
Pay-per-view (10:00 pm ET / 3:00 am GMT)
- Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
- Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
- Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
- Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski
- Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira
FS1 (8:00 pm ET / 1:00 am GMT)
- Ashley Yoder vs. Mackenzie Dern
- Beneil Dariush vs. Alexander Hernandez
- John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz
- C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard
Fight Pass Prelims
UFC Fight Pass (6:30 pm ET / 11:30 am GMT)
- Mike Pyle vs. Zak Ottow
- Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann
- Jordan Johnson vs. Adam Milstead