The UFC returned to Las Vegas as they returned to PPV for UFC 222. In the main event, Cris Cyborg defended her featherweight belt against former Invicta bantamweight champion, Yana Kunitskaya. Plus in the co-main event, Frankie Edgar took on Brian Ortega for the next shot at Max Holloway’s featherweight belt. The night consisted of many good fights, but only four fights were finishes. Regardless, throughout the night, some performances stood out among the rest. So, here are the five UFC 222 standout performances.
#1: Brian Ortega def. Frankie Edgar via KO (Punches) at 4:44 of Round 1
Brian Ortega went into the octagon for his toughest challenge in his career. That challenge was former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar. The winner of the fight should get the next shot at the featherweight champion, Max Holloway. Coming into the fight, Frankie Edgar had never been finished. Brian Ortega was looking to change that, and he did.
The whole first round was close, with both fighters connecting with their own shots. With a little less than 30 seconds left in the first round, Ortega started to turn it on. He connected with a short elbow that stunned Edgar. He followed that up with hard shots and connected with an uppercut that lifted Edgar off his feet. After, he landed some ground and pound and the ref was forced to step in and stop the fight. Now, it’s looking like UFC Hawaii has its main event, as Max Holloway should be scheduled to defend against Brian Ortega next.
#2: Alexander Hernandez def. Beneil Dariush via KO (Punch) at 0:42 of Round 1
Beneil Dariush was expected to take on Bobby Green at UFC 222. Unfortunately, Green was forced to withdraw due to an injury a few weeks prior. As a result, the UFC signed Alexander Hernandez and put him against Dariush.
The fight started with Hernandez faking the glove touch and instead throwing a kick to the body. He was rushing in on Dariush throughout the first minute of the fight. Forty-two seconds into the very first round, he connected with a hook that knocked out Dariush. Hernandez quickly made a name for himself in the UFC’s lightweight division.
#3: Cris Cyborg def. Yana Kunitskaya via TKO (Punches) at 3:55 of Round 1
UFC 222 was originally supposed to see a title fight between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. But, Holloway was forced to pull out with a leg injury, which gave the UFC problems with the PPV. As they scrambled to find a replacement title fight, they booked Cris Cyborg’s second title defense against Yana Kunitskaya.
Early in the first round, Kunitskaya was able to take Cyborg down and quickly took her back. But she did not hold it for very long. Cyborg got back to her feet and began to connect with hard shots like she normally does. With a little over a minute remaining, she knocked Kunitskaya down and connected with hard ground and pound that eventually forced the ref to stop the fight.
#4: Zak Ottow def. Mike Pyle via TKO (Punches) at 2:34 of Round 1
Before we analyze this performance, congratulations to Mike Pyle, who announced he would be retiring after this fight.
The first round was very close. Both fighters were connecting, but it didn’t look as if one was in the lead. A little more than halfway through the first round, Ottow connected with a hook that dropped Pyle. He followed that up with ground and pound and the ref was forced to step in and stop the fight.
#5: Cody Stamann def. Bryan Caraway via Split Decision (29-28 Caraway, 29-28 Stamann, 29-28 Stamann)
UFC 222 consisted of multiple split decisions. The most impressive one of them all was Cody Stamann’s victory over Bryan Caraway. Caraway had been towards the top ten of the bantamweight division for awhile. He was going to be Stamann’s biggest test since entering the UFC. Prior to the fight, Stamann had only fought twice in the UFC, and he was thrown in with a skilled vet in Caraway. He made the most of the opportunity.
The first round went Caraway’s way as he controlled most of the fight, and got it to the ground. From the first round on, it looked as if it were all Stamann. He controlled the fight throughout the last two rounds. But towards the end of the third round, Caraway turned it on, looking for a finish as he swung for the fences. He connected with multiple shots, but unfortunately could not get the finish and lost the decision.
With UFC 222 in the books, these were the five performances that stood out among the rest. Next week, the UFC takes a break, but returns in two weeks with UFC Fight Night 127. In London’s main event, Fabricio Werdum takes on Alexander Volkov. Plus, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz take each other on for the second time in the co-main event. So, join me in two weeks as we look back on UFC Fight Night 127 and the five standout performances from that night.