Originally, UFC 222, which will take place live on pay-per-view (PPV) this Saturday (March 3, 2018) night from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was scheduled to be headlined by a featherweight title fight between champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar, but “Blessed” was forced to withdraw from the fight after suffering an injury.
The show, however, must go on and indeed it will.
In the event’s new headliner, women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg will defend her 145-pound strap against Yana Kunitskaya.
The co-main event, meanwhile, will play host to a featherweight battle between Edgar and surging contender Brian Ortega. Also on the main card, touted rising prospect Sean O’Malley will meet Andre Soukhamthath.
Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look into UFC 222’s marquee fights:
Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
In this bout, Cyborg will look to make the second consecutive defense of her UFC featherweight title against former Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder Yana Kunitskaya.
Since entering the UFC in 2016, Cyborg has compiled a 4-0 Octagon record with three of those victories coming by way of TKO.
While the Brazilian has rounded out her game over the years, her bread and butter has always been her striking. Possessing a lethal Muay Thai background, Cyborg uses a wide variety of attacks on the feet. She’s fast, explosive and her power is unparalleled, which makes her a threat to finish a fight at any given time. Also, she prefers to move forward and pressure her opponents.
In terms of grappling, Cyborg rarely looks for the takedown, however, her defensive wrestling is quite strong. She owns a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu although she’s never scored a victory via submission.
Ahead of this fight, few may have heard of Kunitskaya, but she is certainly a skilled fighter, possessing a 10-3 overall record with seven of those victories coming by way of T/KO.
Coming from a Taekwondo and Muay Thai background, Kunitskaya is well-versed on the feet. She uses distance and her range well, but she also isn’t afraid to throw unorthodox techniques. Primarily, however, Kunitskaya prefers to utilize straight punches, and at times, mixes leg kicks into her attacks.
Ultimately, I believe that Kunitskaya is a talented fighter, although I don’t feel she’s ready for Cyborg. Personally, I feel as if the Brazilian is too skilled, too experienced and too ferocious.
Prediction: Cris Cyborg def. Yana Kunitskaya via first-round TKO