The UFC returns to its home away from home Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 222.
UFC 222 is headlined by a women’s featherweight title bout. The five-fight main card is expected to begin at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. Here’s a look at those bouts and their Sports Interaction MMA odds.
Cris Cyborg Justino vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Records: Cyborg (19-1), Kunitskaya (10-3) Division: Women’s featherweight UFC Odds: Cyborg -1400, Kunitskaya +800 Prediction: Cyborg by KO/TKO
As you can see by the odds, this is expected to be a lopsided fight in favour of the women’s featherweight champion and No. 1 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter on the planet in Cyborg, who is usually a heavy, heavy favourite. The 32-year-old from Brazil hasn’t lost since her professional debut back in May 2005. Sadly, she never got to fight Ronda Rousey. Last time out, Cyborg was pushed to the distance by the woman who upset Rousey a few years ago, Holly Holm. It was only Cyborg’s third win by decision and first since 2008. Did Holm leave a blueprint on how to beat the champion? Cyborg’s power hasn’t been quite as devastating in recent fights. She has failed a PED test in the past, it should be noted.
Kunitskaya, a 28-year-old from St. Petersburg – the one in Russia, not Florida – makes her UFC debut. She is a former bantamweight champion in the all-female promotion Invicta FC. Kunitskaya has just two wins in her past five fights, with losses to Tonya Evinger and Zaira Dyshekova, and a no contest vs. Evinger. It’s Evinger who is a common opponent here as Evinger fought Cyborg last July and was a third-round loser by TKO (knees).
Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
Records: Edgar (22-5), Ortega (13-0) Division: Featherweight UFC Odds: Edgar -160, Ortega +125 Prediction: Edgar by decision
The headline bout of UFC 222 was originally to be featherweight champion Max Holloway against Edgar, who is ranked No. 2 in the division. However, Holloway had to pull out with an ankle injury. It was the second time one of their bouts was scratched as Edgar had to withdraw from UFC 218 with his own injury. Edgar, a 36-year-old American, is a former champion who hasn’t been in the Octagon since May 2017 when he beat Yair Rodriguez by second-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage). Edgar’s only two losses in his past nine are against former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, an all-time great. Half of Edgar’s victories are by decision. Ortega, a 27-year-old American, has that unblemished record but is taking a major step up in competition. He beat Cub Swanson in December by second-round submission (guillotine choke). Ortega, ranked third in the division, is not especially strong on his feet as he has won his past five fights despite having a minus-1.70 striking differential.
Andre Soukhamthath vs. Sean O’Malley
Records: Soukhamthath (12-5), O’Malley (9-0) Division: Bantamweight UFC Odds: Soukhamthath -150, O’Malley +115 Prediction: O’Malley by KO/TKO
Neither fighter is ranked in the division, but O’Malley, a 23-year-old from Montana, is considered a potential rising star. He had a star-making first-round knockout (punches) of Alfred Khashakyan on Dana White’s Contender Series 2 last July. That earned O’Malley a UFC contract, and he debuted in December by beating Terrion Ware in the Ultimate Fighter 26 finale by unanimous decision in a terrific back-and-forth fight. Soukhamthath, 29, is also from the USA. He’s 2-1 in the UFC, ending a two-fight skid with a second-round TKO (punches) against Luke Sanders in December. That was Soukhamthath’s eighth win by KO/TKO.
Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski
Records: Struve (28-9), Arlovski (26-15) Division: Heavyweight UFC Odds: Struve -165, Arlovski +130 Prediction: Struve by submission
Struve, 30 and from the Netherlands, is ranked 12th in the division and has a win over current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, by second-round TKO back in 2012. However, the “Skyscraper” is just 3-4 since. He lost to Alexander Volkov by third-round TKO (punches) last time out in December. Arlovski is 39 and from Belarus. He’s ranked 12th in the division but looked washed up on a five-fight losing streak. However, he salvaged his career (for now) with a unanimous-decision upset over Junior Albini last December. Arlovski is tied for second in UFC heavyweight history with 10 knockdowns. Struve is second in UFC heavyweight history with 20 submission attempts.
Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira
Records: Zingano (9-2), Vieira (9-0) Division: Women’s bantamweight UFC Odds: Vieira -160, Zingano +126 Prediction: Vieira by submission
Zingano, a 35-year-old American, was once considered one of the top women’s MMA fighters in he world. She was 9-0 when she faced off for a belt against Ronda Rousey at UFC 184, but Rousey destroyed Zingano in just 14 seconds by submission. Zingano then lost her next time out by unanimous decision to Julianna Pena in July 2016 and hasn’t fought since. Zingano’s last win was in 2014 over current division champion Amanda Nunes. Vieira is a relative unknown at age 26 out of Brazil. She’s 3-0 in the UFC, last beating Sara McMann by second-round submission at UFC 215. Vieira is ranked No. 5 in the division and Zingano No. 6.