After rumors have circulated that UFC 222 would be downgraded to a UFC Fight Night card or even possibly canceled President Dana White announced earlier the promotion will turn to women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino to headline the card. Men’s featherweight champion Max Holloway was scheduled to fight in the main event but pulled out of his title fight with former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar due to an injury.
It’ll mark the second time in less than three months Cyborg will headline a PPV event for the promotion. She will defend her belt against Yana Kunitskaya in the new main event. Cyborg just fought back in December at UFC 219 against former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm in a fight that went the full five round distance as Cyborg won by a one-sided unanimous decision. It is unclear how much she has been training prior to accepting this fight, however.
It will mark Kuniyskaya’s UFC debut for the former Invicta women’s bantamweight champion. While she is considered to be a good striker that more than likely will play right into Cyborg’s strength. The betting odds here should be extremely wide. Kunitskaya while 10-3 overall, is just 2-2 with one no contest in her last five outings. She’s facing the champion in Cyborg who is 19-1 overall and hasn’t come close to losing since her debut back in May 2005.
Edgar will remain in the lineup as White said he will now fight Brian Ortega in the co-main event. “The Answer” has posted back-to-back triumphs over Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez to put himself in position for a shot at Holloway’s belt. If he is able to beat Ortega he will get his third chance to challenge for the 145-pound title. He lost his previous attempts to Jose Aldo on both occasions.
Ortega is one of the promotion’s rising featherweight talents. “T-City” won his fifth straight trip in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 123, as he submitted Cub Swanson with a guillotine choke 3:22 into the second round of their headlining bout on Dec. 9.
UFC 222 takes place March 3rd in Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena. The event is available through your local cable or satellite provider as well as UFC FightPass.
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Chris covers MMA for The Gruelling Truth and is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 3KingsBoxing.com