Listen, if you’re a hardcore fan of MMA, then there is no need for me to tell you to buy UFC 222. For those who understand the sport on a different level, this is an excellent pay-per-view.
Sure, it’s not what was originally promised to us. There’s little doubt that everyone would still want to see Max Holloway defend his featherweight crown against Frankie Edgar. Meanwhile, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino’s women’s featherweight title defense against Yana Kunitskaya is not necessarily the most popular main event of all time. However, just look at the depth of this card.
The UFC did an excellent job replacing Holloway. The very exciting undefeated featherweight Brian Ortega is in to fight Edgar instead. This is a very interesting fight, and unofficially assumes the role of a No. 1 contender fight in the UFC’s featherweight division. It’s a pairing many fans were hoping to see eventually, and to get it this early, regardless of the circumstances, is amazing. It promises an exciting bout. Neither of these guys like to back up much during fights, and they are constantly looking for finishes. Of course, it would have been far more interesting had it been five rounds, but even three rounds of action between Edgar and Ortega is well worth it.
Then there’s the headliner — the somewhat unexpected one. It’s the fight that “saved the card.” Cyborg against Kunitskaya. Many people had not heard of Kunitskaya, the Invicta bantamweight champion, until she was announced as one half of the main event. While odds are stacked up against the Russian newcomer, how many times have we learned in this sport that anything can happen? UFC 193, where Holly Holm ended Ronda Rousey’s dominance atop the UFC women’s bantamweight division, is a perfect example of this. So is UFC 199, where Michael Bisping toppled Luke Rockhold to claim the UFC middleweight strap. Of course, it would be ridiculous to say that Kunitskaya is likely to beat Cyborg, but never say never.
The UFC 222 lineup also features very exciting bantamweight prospect Sean O’Malley. He stands at 9-0 as a professional. O’Malley was discovered on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, where he earned a UFC contract. He made a successful Octagon debut against Terrion Ware in December. His opponent, Andre Soukhamthath, is coming off a very impressive victory of his own over Luke Sanders in December, and these two men make for an excellent match-up. This fight will tell a lot for both sides, and if someone can pull off an impressive victory here, their name value will shoot up instantly.
Heavyweights Stefan Struve and Andrei Arlovski also tangle on the UFC 222 pay-per-view card. The fight may be overlooked due to both fighters’ recent form, but the name value itself is enough to get fans interested in the fight. It’s hard to not know who Struve and Arlovski are if you’re a fan of the sport, and the fight adds to an already fun card.
To begin the show, two women’s bantamweights will throw down when Cat Zingano battles Ketlen Vieira. Zingano has been out of action since 2016, after she lost to Julianna Peña at UFC 200. Vieira, on the other hand, is another undefeated prospect coming up with the record of 9-0, and a win over the No. 5-ranked Zingano will surely do her career a lot of good.
If you were thinking about passing on this card for UFC 223 or any other reason, think again. It’s an excellent card full of fights tailor-made for excitement.