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With less than one month to go, a headliner has been found for next month’s UFC 222.
UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Invicta FC bantamweight champ Yana Kunitskaya (10-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is set for the March 3 pay-per-view event, a person with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie. The person spoke on a condition of anonymity because the bout has yet to be made official.
Also co-headlining the event is a featherweight title between ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC) and surging contender Brian Ortega (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who agreed to step in for injured champ Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC). Edgar-Ortega will be a title eliminator, not an interim title fight.
The news was first reported by MMAFighting.com and subsequently confirmed by UFC President Dana White on tonight’s episode of “UFC Tonight.”
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Kunitskaya and Ortega also announced the bouts for UFC 222, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event’s main card airs live on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
The event was thrown into disarray last week when Holloway was forced to withdraw because of injury. Without a headliner, the promotion considered canceling the event before the Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya fight was booked.
Cyborg will return to the octagon three months after outpointing ex-bantamweight champ Holly Holm to notch her first title defense of the featherweight title. Still undefeated since her professional debut in 2005, she is widely considered the most dominant female fighter in MMA.
Kunitskaya was scheduled to face Leah Letson in her octagon debut at the event after initially announcing a fight with Sara McMann for UFC on FOX 28. She now gets a huge upgrade in competition.
Kunitskaya picked up the title on her second try, defeating Raquel Pa’aluhi this past August after a submission at the hands of Tonya Evinger, who was badly beaten by Cyborg this past July in a bout for the vacant UFC women’s featherweight belt.
Before receiving another title shot at featherweight, two-time challenger Edgar beat down up-and-comer Yair Rodriguez this past May for his second straight win. He is 7-0 in non-title fights over the past five years.
Edgar recently was called out by ex-bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt, who failed to get an immediate rematch with current titleholder T.J. Dillashaw for UFC 222.
Ortega looks to snap Edgar’s streak by continuing his own. “T-City” wowed UFC fans this past December with a submission of top contender Cub Swanson, extending his unbeaten streak to 13 fights.
The latest UFC 222 card includes:
- Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya – for women’s featherweight title
- Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega
- C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard
- Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Ashley Yoder
- Ketlen Vieira vs. Cat Zingano
- Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
- Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann
- Jordan Johnson vs. Adam Milstead
- Beneil Dariush vs. Bobby Green
- John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz
- Mike Pyle vs. Zak Ottow
For more on UFC 222, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.