The UFC on Saturday night landed at T-Cellular Area in Las Vegas for the primary time in 2018 with a deep lineup from prime to backside at UFC 222, capped by a ladies’s featherweight title battle between Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunitskaya.
Whereas the ultimate two bouts of the night produced probably the most noteworthy performances, there have been high quality efforts and necessary performances from begin to end, turning the third pay-per-view of the yr into an important struggle card because the UFC heads towards the second half of 2018.
Right here’s a take a look at 5 of the most important takeaways from UFC 222.
The primary punch Cyborg landed made Kunitskaya backpedal into the fence and drive on a really low single leg takedown. A pair minutes later, when the motion broke away from the cage and the fighters entered open area once more, the second clear punch the ladies’s featherweight champion delivered had the identical influence. That’s whenever you knew issues have been nearly over.
Backing Kunitskaya into the fence, Cyborg unleashed hell, connecting with a strong shot that dropped the Russian challenger. As a torrent of comply with-up blows crashed house, referee Herb Dean was pressured to step in and cease the competition. In all, the primary occasion lasted three minutes and 25 seconds.
There are no two methods about it: Cyborg is an unstoppable drive and the best feminine fighter of all time. She possesses a special type of energy than anybody else within the ladies’s divisions, and she or he continues to distance herself from the pack increasingly more with every look.
This was an enormous victory for the Brazilian standout in that she took the struggle on brief discover, rolled into the Octagon and put on the type of efficiency you need from a celebrity, operating via Kunitskaya with ease. There are restricted choices for her within the one hundred forty five-pound division proper now, however a showdown with bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes has been mentioned. If it comes collectively, it is going to be the most important battle in ladies’s MMA historical past.
A star is born
Brian Ortega was introduced with the chance of a lifetime: a brief-discover date with Frankie Edgar with a shot at featherweight champ Max Holloway hanging within the stability. And the undefeated Californian took full benefit, turning into the primary fighter to complete the previous light-weight champion to stamp himself because the No. 1 contender.
Late within the first spherical, Ortega dropped a brief inside elbow on Edgar’s jaw that triggered the featherweight veteran to bobble. Sensing the chance, the 26-yr-previous pressed ahead, choosing his spots earlier than hitting an image-good left uppercut that took Edgar’s ft out from beneath him. When he landed on the canvas, Ortega dropped a hammerfist to seal the deal and convey the battle to an in depth.
Such a tremendous effort units up a tremendous battle between a pair of dynamic, entertaining 26-yr-previous skills.
Ortega has all the weather to be a celebrity on this sport. He’s undefeated and has completed actually everybody he’s ever confronted, delivering wildly entertaining performances each outing. He is properly-spoken, humble and good-looking, plus he’s a genuinely good dude who once more used his publish-struggle interview to debate his intentions to make the world a greater place whereas plugging his new charity.
Every time the struggle with Holloway comes collectively, it’s going to be bonkers, and the UFC ought to spend as a lot time, effort and cash because it takes to get these two in entrance of as many cameras and microphones as potential between at times.
New names emerge
Sean O’Malley made probably the most of his pay-per-view most important card debut, delivering a dominant effort and wildly entertaining displaying over the primary two rounds of his bout with Andre Soukhamthath earlier than breaking his foot on a kick within the third spherical.
Two fights earlier, Ketlen Vieira picked up her tenth consecutive victory to start her profession, incomes a cut up determination victory over former title challenger Cat Zingano to determine herself as the highest contender within the ladies’s bantamweight division.
Within the remaining preliminary card battle of the night, newcomer Mackenzie Dern stored her good report intact, edging out Ashley Yoder in her promotional debut. One struggle earlier than, brief-discover neophyte Alexander Hernandez introduced himself as one to observe at light-weight, courtesy of a forty two-second knockout win over prime-15 expertise Beneil Dariush.
On the Battle Move prelims, bantamweight Cody Stamann upended prime-10 veteran Bryan Caraway, whereas Jordan Johnson moved ahead within the mild heavyweight division with a cut up choice win over Adam Milstead, pushing his document to 9-zero within the course of.
Whereas the ultimate two fights carried probably the most fast influence, UFC 222 additionally featured a cavalcade of latest expertise taking one other step ahead, together with a pair totally different fighters with professional star potential in O’Malley and Dern. Keep in mind these names and monitor their progress, as a result of it wouldn’t be shocking if one or two of those athletes (or extra) have been difficult for championship gold within the subsequent yr or two.
Endurance is vital
Whereas Vieira is in rivalry and each Stamann and Johnson ought to get prime-10 assignments subsequent outing, the UFC must take its time O’Malley and Dern going ahead. Although each have star qualities and critical upside, they’re nowhere close to able to be within the cage with the elite skills of their respective divisions.
Dern is an outstanding grappler, however she’s nonetheless very inexperienced on the ft and does not have the takedown recreation mandatory to place opponents on the bottom the place she will begin working her jiu jitsu. She squeaked out a cut up determination towards Yoder, and she or he confirmed some positives Saturday night, nevertheless she’s nonetheless very a lot within the developmental stage of her profession and ought to be moved ahead accordingly.
As for O’Malley, his jacked up foot goes to drive him to the sidelines for a bit, however each time he does come again, there isn’t a cause to hurry him into the deep finish within the bantamweight division. Initially, the one hundred thirty five-pound ranks are stacked, and there are many contenders which have earned a while within the highlight. However secondly, “Sugar Sean” has collected two good wins towards middling competitors and nonetheless has rather a lot to show earlier than getting in there with a number of the extra established names within the division.
If the UFC is sensible, it will proceed to showcase the MMA Lab teammates in favorable matchups that permit them to realize expertise and proceed to garner consideration and publicity. Give them each alternative to blossom and attain their full potential earlier than testing them towards superior expertise.
An unsightly ending (dealt with appropriately)
The horn sounded to sign the top of the primary spherical, after which Hector Lombard uncorked a blistering left hand that landed flush and put C.B. Dollaway on the canvas. This wasn’t a shot thrown on the buzzer or that was already on the best way when the horn went off; this was a transparent shot that got here after the spherical was completed that rendered Dollaway unable to proceed, and it rightfully value Lombard the struggle.
The Cuban middleweight was disqualified for his actions and Dollaway was nonetheless asking “What occurred?” as he was taken to the again on a stretcher.
Referee Mark Smith deserves kudos for dealing with the state of affairs completely, consulting with officers at ringside and making the right name to disqualify Lombard.
What’s fascinating to think about within the wake of this, nevertheless, is why issues weren’t dealt with equally final February when Germaine de Randamie did one thing corresponding to Holly Holm of their battle for the inaugural ladies’s featherweight title. Not solely did “The Iron Woman” land her greatest photographs of the battle on Holm after the buzzer, however she was throwing after the horn following the subsequent spherical, as nicely. But the struggle went on, and the Dutch veteran took residence the choice.