UFC 222 Preview and Predictions

UFC 222 Takes place this Saturday in “Sin City”, Las Vegas Nevada. In the original main event we were suppose to see featherweight champ Max Holloway vs Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, but that fight got removed back in early February. Reason being is champ Max Holloway suffered a knee injury and he wouldn’t be healed in time to fight on the card. The new main event will feature the women’s featherweight champ Cris Cyborg. Cyborg will be taking on Invicta FC Bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya. This will be Kunitskaya’s UFC debut. Kunitskaya is taking this fight on only a months notice, but if she can beat the dominant Cris Cyborg she’ll definitely take the MMA world by storm. The co-main event will feature former headliner Frankie Edgar as he takes Brian Ortega in a matchup that will most likely determine who the next number one contender is. This card features many other interesting fights like Sean O’Malley vs Andre Soukhamthath. UFC 222 also has a heavyweight fight featuring Stefan Struve and MMA Legend Andre “The Pit bull” Arlovski.

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Predictions

MAIN EVENT -Cyborg vs Kunitskaya: The most dominant woman in MMA will be stepping into the octagon Saturday night to try and get her second title defense against Yana Kunitskaya. Cyborg is coming off a win against Holly Holm via decision back at UFC 219. Her opponent will be Yana Kunitskaya, who will be making her UFC debut. A debut against a fighter like Cris Cyborg is no easy task but Kunitskaya believes she’s up to the challenge. Cris Cyborgs last loss came back in 2005, ever since then she has been on a 19 fight win streak, finishing 16 of those fight by way of knockout. Cyborg is easily one of the hardest hitting and entertaining fighters fans have ever seen in the octagon. Cyborg has no holes in her game. She has good cardio, good striking, and a great ground game. It’s going to be really hard for Kunitskaya to win this fight. One advantage Kunitskaya has is she is teammates with Cyborg’s last opponent Holly Holm. Both Kunitskaya and Holm train at Jackson Wink MMA academy, which is one of the most successful MMA academies. Holm was in their for five rounds against Cyborg so Holm will definitely be giving Kunitskaya some pointers on how to fight Cyborg. Holm came out southpaw against Cyborg, which is why Cyborg was so hesitant against Holm. Cyborg loves fighting orthodox fighters like Kunitskaya. If Kunitskaya wants to win this fight, she has to use her kicks to try and slow down the pressure of Cris Cyborg. Kunitskaya has a tae-kwon-do and muay thai background so kicks are a big part of her game. If Kunitskaya can win this it will be the biggest upset in MMA history. My prediction for this fight is Cyborg winning via 2nd round KO. Cyborg is the most talented and decorated woman in MMA and I feel like she’ll be too much for Kunitskaya. It’s going to take a real featherweight to really challenge Cris Cyborg; so hopefully this fight sets up Cris Cyborg vs Megan Anderson.

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Ortega vs Edgar: This fight is a huge opportunity for Brian Ortega who is taking this fight on short notice. If he beats Frankie Edgar he gets a title shot against Max Holloway. If Ortega loses to Edgar he’ll still be at the top of the rankings. For Frankie Edgar this fight is a huge risk. Edgar was already scheduled for a title shot but the champ Holloway had to pull out due to injury. If Edgar wins this fight against Ortega he will still be getting the title shot he deserves, but if he loses, he loses the title shot he’s fought so hard to get. Personally I think this is the most interesting fight on the card. Brian Ortega has one of the best jiu jitsu games in the UFC if he gets a hold of your neck the fight is over. In his last fight against a Cub Swanson he pulled off one of the best submissions the UFC has seen. Frankie Edgar has seen it all in the octagon he’s stood across from some of the best strikers, grapplers, and jiu jitsu specialist. Edgars last fight was against Yair Rodriguez, who was suppose to be the next big thing in the UFC men’s featherweight division. In the fight Edgar shut down Yair’s offense by taking the fight to the canvas followed by some brutal ground and pound. The fight ended due to doctor’s stoppage because Yair’s eye was swollen shut.

This is a dangerous fight for Edgar because he is a high level wrestler, who likes to take the fight to the ground. Ortega feels comfortable on the ground, and if Edgar isn’t perfect on every takedown and makes a mistake, the fight can easily end via submission. I’ve gone back and fourth on this fight multiple times, and rightfully so because this fight can go either way. My prediction for this fight is Frankie Edgar winning via decision. I feel like Edgar’s experience in the octagon will be too much for Brian Ortega. Edgar’s boxing is very technical and I believe he has striking advantage. Edgar knows how dangerous Ortega is and I see him stepping into the octagon with the perfect game plan and fighting the perfect fight to beat Ortega.

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Other notable fights on the card:

Sean O’Malley vs Andre Soukhamthath: Tuesday night contender series notable Sean O’Malley will be taking on Andre Soukhamthath in a three round fight at 135lbs. UFC president Dana White has high hopes on O’Malley and put him in the featured bout to get him some name recognition. O’Malley has 7 finishes out of his 9 wins and is looking to make that 8 finishes Saturday night. I think O’Malley will be tested in this fight. Soukhamtath is a very good counter striker, which could give O’Malley some problems. I do feel O’Malley is the more well rounded fighter and O’Malley definitely has the grappling advantage. My prediction for this one is O’Malley stays undefeated and beats Soukhamthath by 3rd round TKO

Struve vs Arlovski: This heavyweight fight will be scheduled for three rounds. The tallest fighter in the UFC, Stefan Struve will be taking on MMA legend Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski. Arlovski recently broke his five fight losing streak when he beat Junior Albini via decision. Stuve lost his last fight to Alexander Volkov via TKO. One of Struves biggest problems in the UFC is consistency, he struggles to string together multiple wins. I feel like he has to make an impact Saturday night and finish Arlovski. Arlovski is a MMA legend and has been in some wars inside the octagon, but his chin just isn’t the same. I see Struve using his reach advantage to control the fight and eventually I think Struve will take it to the ground and win via 2nd round submission. If Struve submits Arlovski he will be only the second man in MMA history to do so.

-Stephen Caloggero (@Steveo_calo)

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