IN THE OCTAGON
A.J. Hoffman: Cyborg headlines UFC 222
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.
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