The UFC has booked women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg vs. newcomer — and former Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder — Yana Kunitskaya as the UFC 222 main event, MMAFighting.com reported Wednesday evening. The outlet first reported Wednesday afternoon that Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya had failed to materialize.
Also finalized is a non-title fight between top featherweights Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega, per the report.
The UFC 222 was expected to be headlined by a featherweight title bout between champ Max Holloway and Edgar, but the Hawaiian was forced off the card last weekend due to an injury.
The promotion tried to schedule bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw against bitter rival Cody Garbrandt in a rematch as the new main event, but Dillashaw turned the offer down.
With the pay-per-view card less than a month away, the UFC certainly had to scramble to book Cyborg’s second title defense as the new UFC 222 headliner. Ariel Helwani reported Monday that there was a chance the event could be cancelled if a replacement main event was not found. Another option was to make the card free on FS1 and have Edgar and Ortega square off in a five-round main event.
Cyborg defended her featherweight belt for the first time at UFC 219 in December against former women’s bantamweight champ Holly Holm, winning by decision. She became the champ in her third UFC outing against Tonya Evinger. She won the vacant title — after Germaine de Randamie was stripped of the inaugural championship for refusing to defend it — with a TKO.
Kunitskaya won the Invicta FC belt in her last fight; she defeated Raquel Pa’aluhi by decision last August. Prior to that, she had back-to-back bouts with Evinger. She won the first one in controversial fashion to claim gold, but that was later overturned to a no contest. She fell by submission in the rematch.
Edgar was supposed to initially challenge Holloway at UFC 218 last December, but he fell off the card due to an injury. He has won two in a row with wins over Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens.
Ortega has the most momentum he has ever had right now. Most recently, he tapped out Cub Swanson in the second round in his first main event last December. Before Holloway vs. Edgar was scrapped, he wanted to wait and face the winner.
Edgar vs. Ortega will likely determine Holloway’s next foe.
UFC 222 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 3.