UFC 222 ended in very familiar fashion—with Cris "Cyborg" Justino standing over another opponent victorious. Cyborg put away Yana Kunitskaya with a first-round TKO.
For a moment it looked like Kunitskaya had a glimmer of hope to pull off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. After Cyborg came out with a massive right hand, the Russian got Cyborg to the ground, took her bag and attempted a rear-naked choke.
When that didn't work, she was headed toward an ending so many have seen against the UFC women's featherweight titleholder.
The UFC passed along the end of the main event:
At this point, a victory like this for Cyborg is just another one in the win column; though she did take this fight at the last minute, making a quick turnaround from her win over Holly Holm to close out 2017.
She talked about taking the bout on short notice before calling out Amanda Nunes:
Outside of the Cyborg slaughter, plenty of intriguing fighters put in great performances. Brian Ortega made a huge statement, Sean O'Malley showcased some fun skills and a few other prospects put their names on the radar.
Here's a look at the complete card results and a closer look at the main card:
- Cris Cyborg def. Yana Kunitskaya via first-round TKO (3:25)
- Brian Ortega def. Frankie Edgar via first-round TKO (4:44)
- Sean O'Malley def. Andre Soukhamthath via unanimous decision
- Andrei Arlovski def. Stefan Struve via unanimous decision
- Ketlen Vieira def. Cat Zingano via split decision
- Mackenzie Dern def. Ashley Yoder via split decision
- Alexander Hernandez def. Beneil Dariush via first-round KO (0:42)
- John Dodson def. Pedro Munhoz via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- CB Dolloway def. Hector Lombard via disqualification (late hits) (R1, 5:00)
- Zak Ottow def. Mike Pyle via first-round TKO (2:34)
- Cody Stamann def. Bryan Caraway via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)
- Jordan Johnson def. Adam Milstead via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Brian Ortega vs. Frankie Edgar
Brian Ortega has been known for his submission game, but he's apparently got some power too. T-City scored a devastating first-round finish of Frankie Edgar.
Late in the first round, Ortega flipped the fight when he caught Edgar with an elbow as the former lightweight champion was coming in. Ortega remained calm after seeing the damage he had done and kept pressuring until he landed a massive uppercut that put The Answer on the mat.
The UFC showed the beginning of the end for Edgar:
It's now six wins in a row for Ortega with three wins coming by submission and three coming by way of TKO. As Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting noted, this was a coming-out party for T-City:
Ortega vs. Holloway is now one of the most intriguing potential fights in the featherweight division, as Ortega's finish of Edgar makes him an interesting challenge for the champion.
Sean O'Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
Sean O'Malley did just about everything he could to add to his hype train in his unanimous-decision victory against Andre Soukhamthath.
Only a finish would have made the performance better, but that didn't happen in large part because of an injury that left him unable to stand at the end of the fight. He did his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan while lying on the ground.
Before the injury put Sugar in survival mode, he showcased the unique and dynamic striking style that makes him a promising prospect:
O'Malley had Soukhamthath in trouble multiple times in the fight, throwing a variety of strikes set up by almost constant feinting and direction changes.
Soukhamthath had a chance in the third round to take advantage. O'Malley was clearly hurt, but rather than force him to fight on the bad leg, Soukhamthath looked to control him on the ground—which allowed O'Malley to cruise to the decision win.
All in all, this was a huge performance for O'Malley. The 23-year-old took a big step toward the popularity he seeks as a potential star in the division.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve
An old Pit Bull can learn new tricks apparently.
That's the takeaway from Andrei Arlovski's unanimous-decision victory win over Stefan Struve. The former UFC champion, who made his UFC debut 18 years ago, took the fight on all three judges' scorecards thanks to his typically strong boxing and a more well-rounded approach than normal.
He landed more takedowns in one fight than the rest of his UFC career combined, per Aaron Bronsteter of TSN Sports:
Of course, Arlovski showed off his traditional striking game. He landed his fair share of overhand rights and closed the distance against the taller Struve extremely well, but his ability to get Struve down and do damage on the ground gave him the edge.
Arlovski has now won back-to-back fights after a five-fight losing streak. With a different approach it will be interesting to see if he can re-invent himself for one more run at the title. In the ultra-shallow heavyweight division, anything is possible.
For Struve, this is another disappointing showing after losing to Alexander Volkov the last time out.
Ketlen Vieira vs. Cat Zingano
A thorough decision victory for Brazilian Ketlen Vieira over Cat Zingano kicked off the pay-per-view card. Vieira earned the nod on two of the judges' scorecards with Zingano getting a 29-28 card to go her way.
While Zingano was able to make the opening round competitive, Vieira's top game carried the day for the first two rounds. The 26-year-old shined in grappling situations, turning explosive takedowns into top control and ground-and-pound.
The UFC passed along the most impressive takedown for Vieira:
Vieira is now 10-0 with a win over a former title challenger in Zingano. It might not be long before Vieira becomes a title challenger herself.
For Zingano, her first fight back since UFC 200 in July 2016 was a disappointment. It's a long road back after that kind of layoff, and it's hard to tell if she'll be relevant in the division again.