95°F
weather icon Clear

Preview of UFC 222 main card bouts

Updated March 2, 2018 - 3:12 pm

A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 222 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:

Cris “Cyborg” Justino (19-1, 1 No Contest) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (10-3, 1 No Contest)

Class: For Justino’s women’s featherweight title

Line: Justino minus 1,800

Storyline: There is a reason it took time to put this fight together when Justino offered to step in and help salvage the card when featherweight champ Max Holloway pulled out of his fight with Frankie Edgar a month ago. It’s not easy to find an opponent to challenge Justino, particularly on short notice. Kunitskaya answered the call, though oddsmakers aren’t giving her much of a chance. She is coming up from bantamweight, which isn’t ideal for fighting perhaps the most intimidating physical presence ever in women’s MMA. Kunitskaya will be giving up size and strength like most of Justino’s challengers. She does have the benefit of training with Holly Holm, Justino’s last opponent, so her camp should have a pretty good idea of how they want to approach the bout. But there’s not much mystery to Justin’s game. She’s too big, too strong and too good in this matchup.

Hill’s pick: Justino by second-round knockout

Fang’s pick: Justino by first-round knockout

Frankie Edgar (21-5-1) vs. Brian Ortega (13-0, 1 No Contest)

Class: Featherweight

Line: Edgar minus 185

Storyline: This is a massive risk for Edgar, who accepted the fight against an explosive and talented emerging contender on short notice after the Holloway fight fell through. Edgar could have sat out and waited for Holloway to come back, ensuring the title shot. Instead, he asked for the UFC to find a new opponent. Ortega is a tough draw. His submission skills are eye-popping, and his technique is catching up to his power as a striker. Edgar is as gritty as they come and has seen it all in the sport. He’s also never been finished in his career, with all five losses by decision. This could look a lot like his matchup against Yair Rodriguez when Edgar wiped the mat with one of the most promising prospects the division had seen in years.

Hill’s pick: Ortega by second-round submission

Fang’s pick: Edgar by decision

Sean O’Malley (9-0) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (12-5)

Class: Bantamweight

Line: Soukhamthath minus 140

Storyline: O’Malley delivered a star-making performance on “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” with a knockout that played for several days on ESPN and prompted Snoop Dogg to invite him for a postfight smoking session. His flashy style inside the cage is only matched by his fashion choices outside it. The UFC has thrown its promotional might behind the 23-year-old from Montana. Soukhamthath certainly doesn’t want to be a part of those efforts. He has knockout power and is certainly well-rounded enough to give O’Malley a challenge. In fact, he is a slight favorite to hand O’Malley his first professional loss. While he has yet to taste defeat as a pro, O’Malley was submitted twice as an amateur. He still might have those weaknesses on the ground despite his work at the acclaimed MMA Lab in Arizona. Soukhamthath probably will try to find out.

Hill’s pick: Soukhamthath by third-round submission

Fang’s pick: Soukhamthath by third-round knockout

Stefan Struve (32-9) vs. Andrei Arlovski (26-15, 1 No Contest)

Class: Heavyweight

Line: Struve minus 190

Storyline: Arlovski snapped a streak of five straight losses with a win over Junior Albini in November, but it was far from impressive. The victory certainly didn’t conjure up memories of when Arlovski was the UFC heavyweight champion more than a decade ago and one of the most feared fighters. The 39-year-old still is fast and has power, but age and battles catch up with everyone. Struve, 30, has plenty of mileage on his tires but is nine years younger than Arlovski. He’s also the tallest fighter in the organization at 7 feet. He should be able to use his reach to keep Arlovski from getting inside, where he can be most effective. Struve also has an edge if the fight goes to the ground, as he is quite adept at utilizing his long limbs in submission attempts.

Hill’s pick: Struve by second-round knockout

Fang’s pick: Arlovski by second-round knockout

Cat Zingano (9-2) vs. Ketlen Vieira (9-0)

Class: Women’s bantamweight

Line: Vieira minus 165

Storyline: Most of the attention has been on Zingano’s comeback after more than 18 months out of action, but Vieira has quietly put together an impressive resume. She is coming off a submission win over former Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann to improve to 3-0 in the UFC. While Zingano has lost her past two fights, they have come against top competition and in the midst of injuries and personal issues. She says she is now content in her personal life and healthy. When she’s right, she might be the sport’s best bantamweight. Her past three wins were against the current champ, a former champ and the top contender. Zingano is powerful with her striking and grappling.

Hill’s pick: Zingano by second-round knockout

Fang’s pick: Zingano by decision

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
White: I'm looking for different things on this show - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White spoke with media following the second episode of the third season of his show "Dana White's Contender Series". He explained why he signed the two fighters he did after their performances and discussed the heat he's taking for not signing Brendan Loughnane last week. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC's Francis Ngannou says he never doubted himself after losses - Video
UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou will face Junior dos Santos at UFC on ESPN 3 in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 29 in a bout that could determine the next title contender. After losing in a title bout to Stipe Miocic in 2018, Ngannou says he never doubted himself. He also talks about meeting former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dana White on Contender Series contracts: "I'm looking for killers." - Video
On opening night at the UFC's newest facility, the UFC Apex, the promotion signed Punahele Soriano and Yorgan De Castro to contracts after their performances on Dana White's Contender Series. UFC president Dana White explains why he signed the fighters he did. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC Apex is the promotion's newest cutting-edge facility - VIDEO
The UFC Apex will officially open as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicks off on June 19. Here's a look at what the promotion's newest facility in Las Vegas has to offer. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC President Dana White on the UFC Apex, ESPN deal, when Conor McGregor could return and more - Video
UFC President Dana White gave the Review-Journal an exclusive interview where he spoke about the promotion's new facility, the UFC Apex, their new deal with ESPN, when Conor McGregor may return to the octagon and more. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shevchenko says defending the UFC flyweight belt is her number one challenge - Video
UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko claimed the vacant title when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 last December. She will put the belt on the line for the first time in Chicago, Ill., when she faces Jessica Eye at UFC 238 on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC title contender Jessica Eye says her move to Las Vegas gives her an edge - Video
Ohio native Jessica Eye says she moved to Las Vegas to get an edge in performance ahead of facing UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 238 in Chicago, Ill., on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Greg Hardy, former NFL star, on MMA knockout
The former NFL star needed just 17 seconds to score a knockout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series (Adam Hill/Review-Journal)
Marlon Moraes says Henry Cejudo will regret stepping up to bantamweight - VIDEO
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming up to the bantamweight division to battle Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt on June 8 at UFC 238. Moraes said Cejudo will regret going after a second title in a new division and added that he thinks his path will cross with former champion TJ Dillashaw in the future.
Paige VanZant details her arm injury, when she can return - VIDEO
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant was briefly linked to fight at UFC 236, but had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken arm. As a guest on the RJ Ringside Podcast, she detailed the injury and also spoke about joining the M-1 Global booth as a color commentator. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sports Betting Spotlight Videos
THE LATEST
Tony Ferguson beats Donald Cerrone by TKO at UFC 238

Tony Ferguson’s path to the lightweight title is becoming clear. Ferguson won by technical knockout after a medical stoppage in a lightweight fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC 238 on Saturday night.