Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., March 3, 2018) with UFC 222, which is set to go down from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and features a women’s Featherweight title fight between division queen Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya.
It’s easy to dog UFC for staging a main event between the most dominate female fighter in the history of MMA against a fighter who is just 1-1-1 in her last three fights and normally competes in the Bantamweight division. But, the promotion’s hands were tied with this one, and it’s pretty much the best thing they could muster up on short notice after Max Holloway was forced out of his headlining duties against Frankie Edgar in a 145-pound title fight that had been cancelled once before.
While there is always chance of a historic upset win for Yana, the odds are not ever in her favor. Still, credit has to be given where it’s due, as Yana took a huge leap to step up and take on Cyborg when most aren’t too eager to face her, even on a full camp.
As a result of “Blessed’s” injury, Edgar opted to remain on the card and was ultimately paired up with fast-rising contender Brian Ortega. It’s a risky move to say the least, as “The Answer” already had a title shot secure, so a loss will obviously make that go away. But, despite being a game fighter, Edgar needed to get paid, as he hasn’t competed in quite some time. As far as the matchup goes, it’s an interesting one to say the least as Edgar is one of the most experienced fighters in the game, while Ortega is a young up-and-comer who has quickly risen the ranks. And as we have seen in the past, Frankie has a way to make young fighters look a few levels below him. But, Ortega has also shown he can hang with the most seasoned of veterans, taking out Cub Swanson in his last outing.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar were originally set to headline the event in a men’s 145-pound title scrap before max suffused an unfortunate setback in training. Meanwhile, Bobby Green was set to make a quick turnaround to face Beniel Dariush, but “king” was forced out with an injury and Beniel was booked to take on newcomer Alexander Hernandez.
Max Holloway and Bobby Green were the two fighters struck down by the injury bug. And it’s really a shame, too, as a fight between Max and Frankie just doesn’t seem to be one that will ever see the light of day, as “The Answer” was forced out of their original matchup at UFC 218 last December. It’s like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson all over again.
Mackenzie Dern will make her long-awaited UFC debut when she takes on Ashley Yoder in the headlining preliminary bout. Mackenzie has made a name for herself on the regional circuit, going 5-0 under the Invicta FC and Legacy Fighting Alliance banners. Known as one of the best females submission specialists in the world, Dern has numerous accolades to back up her status in the grappling world. Her opponent, Yoder, has lost her two bouts inside the eight-walled cage, so the matchup seems just about right for Dern. Whether she passed the biggest test thus far in her MMA career, remains to be seen.
Yana Kunitskaya may be the reigning Invicta FC women’s Bantamweight champion, but her fight against Cris will be her first inside the Octagon. Talk about getting thrown into the fire. Still, it’s a big opportunity for Yana, as a win over Cris will not only give her the 145-pound strap, it will earn her newfound fame, fortune and bigger fights down the road. It a chance to change her life, and as we have seen in the world of MMA, anything can happen.
Alexander Hernandez has won six straight on the regional circuit, which was good enough for a last-minute call up to the big leagues to face off against Beniel Dariush. It’s a tough fight for Alex, but when the bat phone rings, there is no other choice but to answer it.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Not bad, actually. As mentioned earlier, the underbelly of the event will be headlined by Mackenzie Dern vs Ashley Yoder. Furthermore, John Dodson and Pedrho Munoz will face off in an interesting Bantamweight bout that was originally set to go down a few months ago. Furthermore, CB Dolloway will make his return form a horrific elevator incident to face off against Hector Lombard in Middleweight action.
Also, Mike Pyle will make his final walk down the aisle as his fight against Zak Ottow will be the final one of his combat career that has seen him competed in MMA for over two decades. And since he’s coming of back-to-back defeats, expect “Quicksand” to go out there to put on a show.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
What in the world happened to Hector Lombard? Considered to be one of the most dominant Middleweights in the world, Hector ran right through the competition under the Bellator MMA banner. Since joining UFC way back in 2012, however, Hector has gone a sub-par 3-6-1. To make matters worse, he has dropped his last four fights competing at both the Welterweight and Middleweight division. Lombard needs a win in the worse way, as dropping five in a row won’t be good for his future with the promotion. And it will be hard to come by, as Dolloway is as tough as they come,
Interest Level: 7/10
The card didn’t turn out as bad as many originally thought once Holloway came down with an injury. Sure, the promotion almost cancelled the event, but when you really look at it, it turned out decent. I’m always down to see Cyborg fight, and with the slim chance of an upset around the corner, it makes the fight a bit more interesting. As for Edgar vs Ortega, that has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. It will a good measuring stick for both men, as Edgar can see if he still has what it takes to hang with the young guns, while Ortega will look to show that his win over Swanson was far from a fluke.
Also, we get an interesting battle of big men, as Andrei Arlovski will look to score his second straight win when he faces off against the struggling “Skyscraper,” Stefan Struve. Furthermore, Cat Zingano makes her return after almost a year away from action to face Ketlen Vieira.
And one of the surprising battles of the evening is Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath. Sean is a Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum who has been getting quite the push from the promotion despite only having one true UFC fight under his belt. Still, he is undefeated at 9-0, (1-0 UFC). Andre, meanwhile is only 1-2 inside the Octagon and hasn’t really stood out from the pack. But with the promotion giving this fight man card exposure, he gets the chance to put himself in the spotlight if he can take out a man who already seems to be in good standing with the promotion.
We should be in for an interesting night of fights!
Full UFC 222 Fight Card
UFC 222 PPV Main Event:
145 lbs.: UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
UFC 222 PPV Co-Main Event:
145 lbs: Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
UFC 222 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve
135 lbs.: Ketlen Vieira vs. Cat Zingano
UFC 222 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Ashley Yoder
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Alexander Hernandez
135 lbs.: John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz
185 lbs.: C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard
UFC 222 Prelims on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Zak Ottow vs. Mike Pyle
135 lbs.: Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann
205 lbs.: Jordan Johnson vs. Adam Milstead
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