UFC 222 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
UFC 222 in Las Vegas was just another night where Cris "Cyborg" Justino beat down a bantamweight to defend her featherweight crown.
None of that is her fault—145 simply does not have the participants for her to fight. Still, it's the same old song and dance.
The remainder of the card very well could have been the coming-out party for the new crop of UFC talent. Brian Ortega, Sean O'Malley and Alexander Hernandez all showed out in their fights. Each looking like the evolution we were promised.
Ortega ousted Frankie Edgar in the co-main event. O'Malley wowed and survived on one foot. Hernandez pasted a ranked opponent in his UFC debut. It was a show-stopping night for the young guns.
So, what follows those performances? Where do they leap in the divisions? There is no better time to answer those questions.
Here are the matches to make for the winners and losers after UFC 222.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
Jordan Johnson def. Adam Milstead by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
- Adam Milstead vs. Josh Stansbury
- Jordan Johnson vs. Misha Cirkunov
Cody Stamann def. Bryan Caraway by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Bryan Caraway vs. Joe Soto
- Cody Stamann vs. John Dodson
Zak Ottow def. Mike Pyle by TKO at 2:34 of the first round
- Mike Pyle retired after the fight.
- Zak Ottow vs. Sean Strickland
C.B. Dollaway def. Hector Lombard by DQ after the first round
- Hector Lombard should be cut from the roster.
- C.B. Dollaway vs. Ryan Janes
John Dodson def. Pedro Munhoz by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Pedro Munhoz vs. Marlon Vera
- John Dodson vs. Cody Stamann
Alexander Hernandez def. Beneil Dariush by KO at 0:42 of the first round
- Beneil Dariush vs. Jason Saggo
- Alexander Hernandez vs. Alan Patrick
Mackenzie Dern def. Ashley Yoder by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ashley Yoder vs. Maia Stevenson
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Polyana Viana
Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira
Ketlen Vieira def. Cat Zingano by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The decision may have gone in the books as split, but it was a clear-cut victory for Vieira in every knowing fan's eyes. Cat Zingano has never recaptured her past glory, and it appears as if the new generation has passed her by.
The UFC should still test Zingano. If it keeps her more active, perhaps she'll get back in the groove and make one more run. Lina Lansberg is probably the best-laid plan the UFC could concoct right now.
Vieira is the title contender no one knows, and they probably don't even after UFC 222. Still, she's earned her spot. However, the title picture is muddied right now. The fight to make is Amanda Nunes vs. Cyborg—more on that in a bit—and if that fight is made, then it should be a title eliminator against Raquel Pennington.
If Nunes doesn't fight Cyborg? Then she'll first face Pennington, which leaves Vieira on the outside with a possible tilt against Germaine de Randamie.
Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski
Andrei Arlovski def. Stefan Struve by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Andrei Arlovski will just not go away from the heavyweight picture. Once again, he bucks the trend and grabs a W.
Stefan Struve continues to show a lack of growth. It's difficult to gauge what his true upside is now, but he may be officially relegated to being a gatekeeper. Even with a loss, he'll likely remain ranked. That gives up-and-coming Justin Willis a good chance to make a statement against Struve later this year.
On the other side of the coin, Arlovski picks up a ranked win. What's next?
Truth be told, there's not a lot of options at heavyweight. A lot of the ranked opponents are booked or he's already fought them in the recent past. But there is one name he has yet to fight, and it makes a lot of sense—Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez should not jump right into a title shot after his long layoff. Giving him Arlovski is a great way to see if he is fully healthy while giving Arlovski a chance to get back into the title picture. And it's a fight between two mainstays we've yet to see.
Sean O'Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
Sean O'Malley def. Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
Sean O'Malley showed off his skills for the first two rounds before injuring his foot in the third. It was a spot where Andre Soukhamthath could have stolen a victory due to injury, but he inexplicably took O'Malley down. It was one of the worst decision-making displays we have ever seen inside the cage.
Soukhamthath will grab another UFC fight, but it shouldn't be much of anything to note. Mark De La Rosa is a fine choice for an opponent.
The real question after the fight is how will the UFC book its fast-rising prospect? Does it test him against one of the upper-echelon fighters or give him another lower-tier opponent to foster his growth?
The latter is probably the smarter route, but given his wealth of skills, the UFC should put him in the cage against Eddie Wineland. It's a barnburner of a matchup that is a very winnable fight for the youngster. It could be a star-making kind of fight if O'Malley makes yet another statement.
Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
Brian Ortega def. Frankie Edgar by KO at 4:44 of the first round
Welcome to T(KO)-City, Frankie Edgar.
This was supposed to be Edgar's next title shot, but an injury forced out Max Holloway. Instead of waiting for the champ to heal, Edgar stayed on the card. It turned out to be a terrible decision.
Brian Ortega became the first man to stop Edgar by strikes. And he did it without much issue. The era of Edgar as a title threat is most likely over. And the new wave has arrived.
Edgar is still a fine fighter and can test anyone trying to break into title contention at featherweight or lightweight. Or he can go on fighting other members of the old guard, and that's the more likely path. Edgar meeting Cub Swanson in 2018 would be a fun main card fight to help any card.
For Ortega, it's easy. He took Edgar's title shot. At some point in the near future, Ortega will meet Max Holloway for featherweight supremacy.
Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Cris Cyborg def. Yana Kunitskaya by TKO at 3:25 of the first round
Everyone and their mother knew how this one would go down, and that is exactly how it went down.
Kunitskaya collected her check and will be heading back to 135. She's not an instant title contender there either, but she could still battle with a ranked foe. Sarah Moras is without a fight and would be a good way to acclimate her back to bantamweight.
For Cyborg there are two, and only two, options: Amanda Nunes or Megan Anderson.
Anderson is a true featherweight, but she hasn't fought in quite awhile. There is very little juice to that fight. Anderson needs one fight, and a good performance in that fight, to help the UFC sell her as a legitimate threat.
That leaves Nunes. And that's the fight to make.
Holly Holm showed some flaws in Cyborg's game within the clinch. Kunitskaya was able to briefly take Cyborg down and get her back. Both of the last two fights from Cyborg have shown ways that Nunes can beat her. Nunes is a strong, powerful fighter with one of the best all-around games. It's not a gimmie for Cyborg.
It's compelling and a true test for the featherweight champion. Something we don't normally associate with her fights.