Featherweight champion Max Holloway has been forced to withdraw from UFC 222 in Las Vegas due to a leg injury. Holloway was scheduled for a second title defence against Frankie Edgar.
With Max Holloway pulling out of the featured bout against Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega has stepped in to fill the gap at short notice. Connor McGregor has made all the right noises about a possible return to the Octagon, putting up his hand to take on Edgar after the withdrawal of Holloway. The winner of the Edgar/Ortega bout will get the opportunity to square off against Holloway for the Featherweight belt. Edgar is taking a massive leap of faith, as a loss against Ortega would put a pin in his title shot.
Cris Cyborg was a late call-up to headline the event and will defend her title against Yana Kunitskaya. This will be her second defence of the Featherweight title that she captured off Tonya Evinger at UFC 214.
Our tips in detail for the event in Sin City can be found below.
Frankie Edgar was originally booked to take on Max Holloway for the title, but the champ’s injury means the bout with Ortega is a non-title fight. The number three ranked Edgar now has the chance to battle with the fourth-ranked contender the division, with the winner taking on Holloway for a shot at the title.
Edgar is a once in a generation fighter, whose only notable losses in the division have come at the hands of Jose Aldo.
Ortega is the biggest rising star in the division, and the bout represents a huge opportunity for the young star to build some real momentum towards a title shot.
Ortega is coming into this bout without a full camp and Edgar is a proven warrior in the division. Edgar’s endurance in the cage is unmatched and with a full preparation behind him, he should get the decision over his younger opponent.
Cris Cyborg headlines the event with a title defence against Yana Kunitskaya. Cyborg is unbeaten over her last 19 bouts and has won sixteen by TKO. Holly Holm was the last fighter who was able to go the distance with the champ.
Kunitskaya is relaxed about her chances of causing a major upset, but with a limited preparation, it’s difficult to see her causing Cyborg any major problems.
If the unthinkable does happen, then Kunitskaya will be the first UFC champion from Russia.
O’Malley is another rising star in the bantamweight division who put his name in front of UFC boss Dana White with an impressive performance in the Contender Series. He is an aggressive striker, who picked up a points decision in his first UFC bout.
“The Asian Sensation” will look to go to his tried and trusted game-plan of using his variety of rangy strikes to land the knockout. If O’Malley can show some patience with his shot selection, then he’s a good chance of notching up an impressive win. Soukhamthath suffered two close decision losses that could have gone either way. A win here against a quality opponent will put him in the frame for a match-up against a bigger name.
O’Malley has enough versatility to extend his run and at $2.08 is good value to get the better of his more experienced opponent.
Andrei Arlovski will be out to put the brakes on a slump when he goes up against veteran Stegan Struve in this heavyweight match-up.
Arlovski has lost his last five bouts, including three by knockout needs to add a win here to continue a career that has spanned more than twenty years. He has proven his class over that time, going toe to toe with some of the more elite fighters in the division.
Struve can do some real damage with his heavy striking ability and will be looking to make full use of his superior range against his older opponent. Struve is good value to get the TKO within the first two rounds at $1.90.
Former women’s bantamweight contender, Cat Zingano returns to the ring after a year on the sidelines with injury.
The former contender has struggled to recapture the form that made her one of the division’s fiercest competitors. Zingano boasts victories over the likes of Miesha Tate, but suffered a soul-destroying loss to Rhonda Rousey at UFC 184.
She suffered the second loss of her career at the hands of Julianna Pena at UFC 200 and is looking to make a victorious return in Las Vegas. If Zingano is able to get the win then she puts herself back in the conversation for the title.
Her opponent Ketlen Viera, is a tough competitor with a black belt in both kiu-jitsu and judo. The Brazilian has youth on her side, and a take-down is her best opportunity of causing an upset against a woman who has defeated Amanda Nunes. If Vieria ($2.75) can avoid the early big shots from Zingano then she can finish this inside the first two rounds with a submission victory.