UFC 222 Early Preview: What Are the Biggest and Best Fights Set for Las Vegas?

UFC 222 looked really, really bad for a little while. The event was set to be a one-fight card, offering little intrigue past the headlining bout between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. When that one fight fell through, it seemed like the event would b…

UFC 222 looked really, really bad for a little while. The event was set to be a one-fight card, offering little intrigue past the headlining bout between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. When that one fight fell through, it seemed like the event would be scrapped entirely.

In a strange turn of events, however, the injury to Holloway alongside a few unfortunate turns for recent fight-night events have transformed UFC 222 into the best event of 2018 thus far. The full card stands as follows:

Main Card (Pay-Per-View)

  • 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

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)

  • Ashley Yoder vs. Mackenzie Dern
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Bobby Green
  • John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz
  • CB Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard

Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)

  • Mike Pyle vs. Zak Ottow
  • Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann
  • Jordan Johnson vs. Adam Milstead

From the quick, card-saving turnaround from women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, to the mouth-watering co-main event matchup to the numerous top-10 names on the preliminary card, UFC 222 has a lot to offer to fans.

But what are the biggest fights on the card? And what are the best? Read on and find out!

The Main Event: Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya

Filling in for the injured men’s featherweight champion is the women’s featherweight champion, Cris “Cyborg” Justino. 

Any longtime MMA fan is more than familiar with what Cyborg offers at this point: pure violence. True, the Brazilian is much more than a simple brawler—as she proved when she outpointed former UFC champion Holly Holm in December—but when fans turn on the TV to see her fight, they’re not looking for a contest, they’re looking to see her maul some poor woman.

The “poor woman” at UFC 222 is Yana Kunitskaya.

Kunitskaya is far from the worst fighter that Cyborg has ever faced. The Russian striker has been in the MMA game since 2009 and built up an 8-1 record on the European circuit before taking a hiatus in 2012. She returned to the cage in 2016 and made the jump stateside not long after, making a big splash and ultimately capturing gold in her brief career with Invicta FC.

But while Kunitskaya has proved herself to be a generally solid fighter, she doesn’t necessarily have anything new to offer Cyborg, who is unquestionably and indisputably the single best female fighter on the planet. The question isn’t if Cyborg will win, it’s about whether she will bust Kunitskaya up en route to a decision or run her over before things get that far.

The Co-Main Event: Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

Fans planning to attend UFC 222 owe Frankie Edgar a big thank-you. The former lightweight champion was supposed to receive a crack at Holloway in the main event of this card, but when Holloway withdrew due to a leg injury, Edgar stuck around instead of continuing his chase for the elusive featherweight title. 

Was that a wise move, though? Well, probably not. Now in the co-main event of UFC 222, Edgar is poised to face Brian Ortega.

Since debuting in the UFC in 2014, Ortega has been on many “hot prospects” lists and, to this point, has lived up to any and all hype pinned on him. His UFC record stands at 5-0 (1) (with that 1 being a no-contest stemming from a failed drug test) with each win coming inside the distance. While there was a brief time where it was justified to wonder if those talents would translate to the division’s elite, he passed a big test in December when he submitted top-10 staple Cub Swanson in just two rounds.

At this point, it’s easy to wonder if anyone is capable of stopping Ortega, but facing those sorts of indomitable monsters is an all-too-familiar position for Edgar. The Answer has been doubted in many of his recent fights but, far more often than not, manages to come out on top.

Ortega may be the man to finally knock Edgar down his long-held seat as the world’s No. 2 featherweight. Then again, he may just end up being the latest up-and-comer to get put in his place.

Fight to Keep an Eye On: Ashley Yoder vs. Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern is one of the hottest prospects in MMA today. And how could she not be?

Dern entered the MMA world in 2016 to much fanfare, carrying a slew of medals and awards from her years in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Those grappling skills served her well as she transitioned from the mats to the cage, too, and saw her encounter little resistance as she built up her highlight reel on the regional scene.

From there, she jumped over to Invicta FC and had little trouble finishing former title contender Kaline Medeiros.

Despite being green, the UFC decided to bring her up to the main roster. She debuts at UFC 222 against Ashley Yoder.

Yoder, quite frankly, is supposed to be a showcase opponent for Dern. 0-2 in the Octagon and without any particularly noteworthy in-cage skills, Yoder has few tools to impede Dern’s offense and even fewer tools to threaten her.

This is a fight tailor-made for Dern to win. While she can’t be viewed as a slam dunk to win because her actual in-cage experience is so limited, there is little reason to doubt her here.

The Best of the Rest

Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira: Cat Zingano is back! The longtime bantamweight contender has fought just three times since her dramatic comeback win over Miesha Tate in 2013, but she remains one of the division’s most interesting talents based on her solid wrestling and knockout power. She has the chance to reestablish herself as a title contender at the expense of a surging Ketlen Vieira, who jumped into the top-five by beating Sara McMann.

Stefan Struve vs. Andre Arlovski: These two heavyweight veterans have fallen on hard times of late and it’s easy to wonder if the loser of this fight might get booted. The good thing is that this is an unpredictable matchup and should be exciting.

John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz: UFC Belem’s loss was UFC 222’s gain as the Fight Night co-main event was moved here. In theory, Dodson is the favorite as he is better established against higher-end competition. But make no mistake, Munhoz is legit and has everything he needs to pick up a win here.

Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann: After an extended layoff, Bryan Caraway is back in the cage. The veteran hasn’t been seen since posting an at-the-time upset victory over Aljamain Sterling and has a lot of work to do in terms of reasserting himself as an elite bantamweight. He has a good opportunity to do so as he faces an untested, unseasoned Cody Stamann. 

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New UFC 222 Poster Is Out – Is It Better Than The First?

Earlier this week, March 3’s UFC 222 from Las Vegas got a late-notice main event when news came that women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg would be meeting Invicta FC bantamweight champ Yana Kunitskaya. Back when the event was scheduled to be headlined by an anticipated featherweight title clash between champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar, […]

The post New UFC 222 Poster Is Out – Is It Better Than The First? appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

Earlier this week, March 3’s UFC 222 from Las Vegas got a late-notice main event when news came that women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg would be meeting Invicta FC bantamweight champ Yana Kunitskaya.

Back when the event was scheduled to be headlined by an anticipated featherweight title clash between champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar, the promotion drew a large amount of criticism for the original poster online for what was viewed as having a very weak fight between heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Stefan Struve as the co-main event.

Well, they released an all-new, revamped poster today, and it’s safe to say it does look at least a little bit better now that Edgar moved into the co-headliner versus surging young contender Brian Ortega. Check it out right here:

With Cyborg a justifiable -1000 betting favorite heading into her bout with Kunitskaya, who will make her UFC debut, the general opinion is that she’s going to run through the Invicta bantamweight champ like she’s run through the rest of her opponents.

That’s really all there is in the UFC’s women’s featherweight division right now, however, so in that sense, it’s business as usual.

But the co-main between Edgar and Ortega is a great fight, one where Edgar is taking all of the risk in fighting a highly dangerous opponent to essentially save his spot as the No. 1 contender. That itself has made the new UFC 222 poster much better than the first.

Is it enough to get you to pay for the card?

The post New UFC 222 Poster Is Out – Is It Better Than The First? appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

Shocker: Cyborg Massive Favorite Heading Into UFC 222

To the surprise of no one, Cris Cyborg has opened up as a massive betting favorite against Yana Kunitskaya for their UFC 222 title fight. Kunitskaya is taking on the UFC women’s featherweight champion in a late-replacement bout in the main event of March 3’s UFC 222 after original headliner Max Holloway was forced out of his […]

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To the surprise of no one, Cris Cyborg has opened up as a massive betting favorite against Yana Kunitskaya for their UFC 222 title fight.

Kunitskaya is taking on the UFC women’s featherweight champion in a late-replacement bout in the main event of March 3’s UFC 222 after original headliner Max Holloway was forced out of his featherweight title defense versus Frankie Edgar. Cyborg had previously been linked to a much-discussed superfight with UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at July’s anticipated UFC 226.

Before then, Cyborg will defend her featherweight belt against the relative unknown Kunitskaya and opened as a -1000 betting favorite compared to a +600 Kunitskaya. That means the challenger is a six-to-one underdog while at 10 to 1, the champion has the full and unbridled confidence from the bookmakers.

Kunitskaya is a 28-year-old Russian who will be making her UFC debut against Cyborg, an admittedly tall order.

Elsewhere, former WWE superstar-turned-fighter CM Punk will be a +200 under to Mike Jackson, himself an MMA journalist who moonlights as a fighter for up-and-comers. He was Mickey Gall’s first UFC opponent in his Octagon debut and will serve as a suitable dance partner for the woefully inexperienced Punk at the June card from Chicago.

It seems that Cyborg will make a quick title defense before the rumored superfight with Nunes this summer, assuming she gets past this UFC newcomer.

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Report: Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya Fight to Headline UFC 222

UFC 222 reportedly has a new headliner. 
According to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, the promotion has tabbed a women’s featherweight title bout between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Yana Kunitskaya as the new main event.
The card, which will…

UFC 222 reportedly has a new headliner. 

According to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, the promotion has tabbed a women’s featherweight title bout between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Yana Kunitskaya as the new main event.

The card, which will take place March 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, needed a new headliner after Max Holloway suffered an ankle injury that forced him to withdraw from his featherweight title tilt against Frankie Edgar. 

      

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Cris Cyborg Steps Up To Save UFC 222

The all-out mess that is March 3’s UFC 222 pay-per-view from Las Vegas finally has a replacement headliner. News broke from MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg was rumored to be fighting Invicta FC bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya in place of the originally booked Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar featherweight championship. Edgar […]

The post Cris Cyborg Steps Up To Save UFC 222 appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

The all-out mess that is March 3’s UFC 222 pay-per-view from Las Vegas finally has a replacement headliner.

News broke from MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg was rumored to be fighting Invicta FC bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya in place of the originally booked Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar featherweight championship.

Edgar is reported to be taking on Brian Ortega in the co-headliner as has been talked about ever since Holloway was forced off the event last weekend:

The fights were soon confirmed, good news for the UFC as they attempt to crawl out of an early-year funk that’s seen two consecutive pay-per-view main events fall apart after middleweight champion Robert Whittaker was also unable to fight at this weekend’s UFC 221.

TJ Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt in a rematch of their UFC 217 bout was talked about but ultimately shot down by Dillashaw, who had a litany of reasons for not giving his former Team Alpha Male teammate-turned-rival an immediate rematch.

Some will deride the UFC’s decision to have Cyborg continue facing bantamweights she outweighs by gross margins, but at this point in time, there wasn’t much else they could do.

The post Cris Cyborg Steps Up To Save UFC 222 appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

Cyborg-Kunitskaya, Edgar-Ortega Set For UFC 222

UPDATE: Sources have confirmed that Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega is “virtually a done deal.” UPDATE #2: Sources have also confirmed that Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya is a done deal. Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya might just save the U…

UPDATE: Sources have confirmed that Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega is “virtually a done deal.” UPDATE #2: Sources have also confirmed that Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya is a done deal. Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya might just save the UFC 222 pay-per-view. Cyborg is the reigning UFC women’s featherweight champion. Kunitskaya is Invicta FC’s bantamweight title holder. […]