UFC 222 Results: Cris Cyborg Blitzes Through Yana Kunitskaya To Retain Title



Joel Roman, Contributing Writer

The most feared, baddest woman on the planet continued her destruction Saturday night to retain her Featherweight title in the main event of UFC 222 in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena.

Cris Cyborg closed the night by making swift work of UFC newcomer, Yana Kunitskaya by TKO at 3:25 of the opening round to extend her streak at 21 and improved to 20-1 (1 NC).

Kunitskaya (10-4) kept Cyborg down for a moment with a single-leg takedown after getting tagged with a powerful right hand in the opening exchange. Kunitskaya’s heart and tenacity kept Cyborg on the defense until a series of strikes found a home that ultimately dropped Kunitskaya to the canvas. After violent ground-and-pound strikes, the referee stepped in to put an end of nightmare strikes by Cyborg.

Kunitskaya gained a ton of respect from not only the champion, but the MMA community. The Invicta FC (135 pound) Bantamweight champion moved up a weight class to make her UFC debut against the most dominant female fighter on the planet. Kunitskaya’s next fight will most likely be at Bantamweight.

Cyborg’s continued dominance in the Featherweight division raised a familiar question: who’s next for the Brazilian? UFC commentator Joe Rogan asked what could be next for her during their post-fight interview and Cyborg had the UFC Bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes in mind.

“I now wait for Amanda [Nunes],” Cyborg told Rogan. “She called me out. And when you call Cyborg out, you have to handle it.”

Amanda Nunes is the reigning Bantamweight champion and fellow Brazilian who called out Cyborg in the past for a potential superfight. Nunes eyes to become the first female multiple weight-division champion and the first to dethrone Cyborg.

First though, Nunes has a date with number one contender, Raquel Pennington to defend her Bantamweight title at UFC 224 on May 12. The stars could align for both Brazilians if Nunes pasts the always game Pennington to set for a superfight during International Fight Week at UFC 226 on July 7.

Saturday night’s co-main event and title contender-elimination bout between number two ranked Frankie Edgar and number three ranked Brian Ortega was nothing short of breathtaking.

Ortega starched Edgar at 4:44 of the first round. Edgar was controlling most of the action until Ortega found is range in the closing 90 seconds of the round.

The end came when Ortega landed a slick, vicious left elbow in the exchange which stunned Edgar. Ortega remained stoic as he stalked Edgar to land a knee, followed by a left hand, and an uppercut that lifted Edgar off his feet and onto the canvas.

Shortly after, Ortega landed a couple of shots before the referee swooped in with 16 seconds remaining. Ortega is the first to man to stop the Toms River-native. There’s a new number one contender for the Featherweight championship.

Champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar were originally going to headline the card before Holloway suffered an injury earlier this year. Edgar remained on the card and suffered a loss and his future title bout. Holloway tweeted respect to Edgar and told him to “chin up bratha.”

Holloway versus Ortega is a fun matchup and the timetable for the date and location is unknown, but surely a UFC Hawaii fight card is long overdue and tempting for later this year.

Main card

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.

Notable Undercard Results:

Mackenzie Dern* def. Ashley Yoder via split decision​.
Alexander Hernandez* def. Beneil Dariush via first-round KO.
CB Dolloway def. Hector Lombard via disqualification (late hits in round 1,​ 5:00)

* ​UFC debut

The next UFC pay-per-view is set for April 7 in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center for UFC 223 featuring two title fights. The headliner is the much anticipated Lightweight title bout between interim champion, Tony Ferguson faces undefeated contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. The co-main event is a Strawweight title rematch between newly-crowned champion Rose Namajunas and former long-time champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.