IN THE OCTAGON

A.J. Hoffman: Cyborg headlines UFC 222

Cris Cyborg will headline UFC 222. MMAfighting.com

UFC 222 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and is headlined by the women’s featherweight championship match between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Yana Kunitskaya. The card was supposed to also have Frank Edgar challenging for Max Holloway’s 145-pound title, but Holloway had to pull out with an injury. Here is a look ahead at the card:

The headliner features Cyborg looking to continue her run as the most dominant female in the sport today. She has had little resistance in the UFC. She faces Kunitskaya, who was the reigning Invicta champion. She is a talented grappler, but has not been in the cage with anyone who can do what Cyborg does. This fight was made to save the card after Holloway had to pull out, and the matchup definitely has the look of one that was thrown together in an emergency situation. Kunitskaya is normally a bantamweight, and doesn’t present much that Cyborg hasn’t seen. I would be surprised if we get a competitive matchup. 

The co-main event is significantly more interesting, with Frank Edgar taking on Brian Ortega for the chance to fight Holloway when he returns to health. Edgar is a well-known commodity. He is excellent everywhere, although I have always been most impressed with his boxing (his footwork in particular). Edgar is the bar you have to pass in order to be considered a championship caliber fighter. Many rising prospects have had their championship dreams derailed by Edgar. Ortega is a special talent though. His striking has improved dramatically since getting to the UFC, and there are few grapplers more dangerous than him. Ortega is extremely dangerous on bottom, throwing triangle and armbar attempts with great effectiveness. Ortega was able to survive the best that Cub Swanson could throw before catching him in a fight-ending triangle choke. This will be a great test to see if the hype behind Ortega is real. 

Sean O’Malley has a chance to stake his claim as one of the future stars in the UFC if he can get past Andre Soukhamthath. O’Malley, who showed up in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He performed well in his first UFC appearance, and is already getting a spot on the pay-per view. Soukhamthath is not a slouch. He is 1-2 since getting to the UFC, and both losses were by split decision. It’s hard to believe the UFC would put O’Malley in this spot on the card if they didn’t think this was a fight he should win. 

For the old school fans, there is a matchup of two veteran heavyweights. Stefan Struve is coming off a loss to Alexander Volkov, but is in his 18th fight in the UFC, and will not be an easy out. Andrei Arlovski, a former champion, comes off a win over Justin Albini after five straight losses. A loss for Arlovski could be the end, as his 40th birthday comes on Sunday. Both guys have questionable chins, and it could be a matter of which guy can land a big shot first.

The undercard has some interesting matchups, with C.B. Dolloway taking on Hector Lombard and former bantamweight title contender John Dodson taking on Pedro Munhoz. Mackenzie Dern, who is a brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and a rising star in women’s MMA makes her UFC debut on the prelim card as well. 

Predictions

Cyborg by TKO

Ortega by DEC

O’Malley by DEC

Arlovski by KO

Vieira by DEC 

Dern by SUB

Dariush by TKO

Dodson by TKO

Lombard by KO

Pyle by DEC

Stamman by DEC

Johnson by DEC

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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