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UFC 222 card: Frankie Edgar vs Brian Ortega full fight preview

MMA: UFC 211-Edgar vs Rodriguez Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight elites Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega will collide this Saturday (March 3, 2018) at UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In five years as a Featherweight contender, Edgar has lost to no one but former divisional kingpin Jose Aldo. Aside from those fights, Edgar has routed a majority of the division’s top contenders, earning himself another title shot opposite Max Holloway that has so far failed to materialize because of injuries to both men. Edgar’s healthy for Saturday, however, and he isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Ortega is a perfect foil for “The Answer,” an excellent fighter who’s game until the final bell and represents a constant finishing threat. It’s the best fight on the card, and frankly it’s a shame this won’t be a five-round showdown.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:

Frankie Edgar
Record: 22-5-1
Key Wins: B.J. Penn (TUF 19 Finale, UFC 118, UFC 112), Chad Mendes (TUF 22 Finale), Urijah Faber (UFC Fight Night 66), Gray Maynard (UFC 136), Cub Swanson(UFC Fight Night 57), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 205)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 200, UFC 156), Ben Henderson (UFC 144, UFC 150)
Keys to Victory: Edgar is one of the best fighters to ever do this thing, a top-ranked contender or champion since 2010. Edgar is an excellent wrestler with nasty ground striking, and he hides his wrestling behind in-and-out boxing extremely well.

The general narrative of this fight is that Edgar should look to pick-and-move opposite Ortega. “T-City” can punch, but Edgar has an “Iron” chin and tends to out-work opponents, particularly ones like Ortega who routinely allow themselves to lose rounds.

After all, Edgar only has to avoid the submission/knockout for 15 minutes.

That’s all sensible strategy, but it’s worth noting that Edgar has never been finished on the mat, either. He has the top control and ground striking to do big damage on the mat safely, and that’s a viable option if Ortega is connecting often. If that’s the case, the major key for Edgar is to set up his shots rather than react into them, as Ortega really excels at countering forced shots.


Brian Ortega
Record: 13-0 (1)
Key Wins: Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 123), Renato Moicano (UFC 214), Clay Guida (UFC 199), Thiago Tavares (UFC Fight Night 68)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Ortega’s fight style is a potent mix of offensive boxing and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu equivalent of massive single-shot knockout power. His excellent cardio and dangerous offense always keep him in the fight, resulting in numerous comeback wins deep in the fight.

Since Ortega has never been able to consistently win rounds against lesser competition, it would be odd to expect him to do it against Edgar. Whether it’s a heavy strike, submission, or both, Ortega needs to set something big up in order to stop the former Lightweight champion.

Aggression will definitely be a big key here. In other fights, Ortega has waited until the second or third round to really turn it up and attack his opponent, which would be a waste against Edgar. From the first bell, Ortega should be stalking his foe with combinations, counters, and kicks.

Ortega is the bigger fighter and is quite durable himself, which means long exchanges will likely favor him. If he can punish Edgar on the feet, the longtime wrestler will turn to his takedown roots. That’s precisely what the jiu-jitsu black belt wants, as each takedown attempt from Edgar is a chance to wrap up the neck and finish things.

Bottom Line: This is a badass title eliminator.

Edgar already earned his title shot, but he chose to get paid and stay active opposite his division’s fastest rising prospect. That’s a risky move, as a win pretty much leaves him in the same position as No. 1 contender. On the bright side, there can be absolutely no doubt of his next title shot.

A loss strips him of that opportunity, forcing him to win more fights before facing off with Holloway.

This is not an ideal situation for Ortega — he’d prefer a full camp and five rounds — but it’s a huge opportunity nevertheless. Featherweight is a hot division right now, with men like Jeremy Stephens and Darren Elkins scoring big wins and building momentum quickly. Defeating Cub Swanson was a big moment for “T-City,” but it was not a guarantee.

Stopping Edgar is.

The risk is that Ortega loses his undefeated status and win streak to one of the toughest fighters on the roster, but that’s not such a terrible fate. Ortega is plenty young with a great style and can build towards a title shot again, making this fight a risk worth taking.

At UFC 222, Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega will duel for a title shot in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?

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