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UFC 222 analysis: The images that defined UFC 222

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There’s a lot to talk about after UFC 222 - here are 6 images and stories that will define the night.

Sean O’Malley, UFC 222
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 222 is in the books, and it was a memorable night for a variety of reasons. Here’s a look at the images and moments that defined the event. All fight images courtesy of Esther Lin/MMA Fighting.

Sean O’Malley’s post-fight (pictured above) - This is probably the one that will most stick with me. Sean O’Malley, after suffering some sort of serious (and as of this writing not yet determined) leg injury in round 3, none the less took a decision win over Andre Soukhamthath. As Bruce Buffer read the scores, O’Malley groaned in agony on the mat, but that didn’t stop him from raising his hands and giving a truly bizarre post-fight interview to Joe Rogan, all flat from his back. The UFC has high hopes for O’Malley - this entire spectacle enforced the idea that he has the potential for big things.

Brian Ortega vs. Frankie Edgar, UFC 222
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brian Ortega knocks Frankie Edgar off his feet - Few though Brian Ortega would defeat Frankie Edgar. Fewer still thought he would be the first man to stop the Answer. Virtually no one thought Ortega could KO Edgar, but that’s exactly what he did. And what a KO, as he wobbled Edgar with a perfect elbow, then hit him with an uppercut that literally lifted Edgar off his feet. This was one of those undeniable crowning of a new guard moments, and truly exceptional.

Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, UFC 222
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Cyborg strikes fear into Kunitskaya - We all knew a Cris Cyborg win over Yana Kunitskaya was inevitable, and we all knew it was going to be violent. But that didn’t make it easy to watch. In particular, Kunitskaya’s face right before the final assault was heart-breaking. Injured, and trapped against the fence, her face as Cyborg moved in betrayed all her emotions - she knew the whirlwind of destruction was coming for her, and she knew she couldn’t stop it. It was an all too human look at the cost that comes with fights like this.

Mike Pyle vs. Zak Ottow, UFC 222
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A frustrated end for Pyle - Mike Pyle has been a fixture of MMA for close to 20 years, and Saturday night, he fought his last fight. When he lost to Zak Ottow, he slammed the mat in frustration, hating to see his career go out like that. Pyle is one of those fighters you just want to have in the sport. He was consistently entertaining, and a good test for anyone. He ends with a record of 27-14-1 overall, including a 10-9 run over the last decade in the UFC. Best of luck to him.

Alexander Hernandez vs. Beneil Dariush, UFC 222
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Welcome to the UFC Alexander Hernandez - A late replacement for Bobby Green, the 25 year old Hernandez seemed like easy pickings for Beneil Dariush. But nope, Hernandez took just 42 seconds (and a not-very-classy fake glove tap) to put the ranked Dariush down and out. That’s one of those showings that instantly vaults you up the ranks - all eyes will be on Hernandez next time.

UFC 222

Good-bye to Bruce Connal - At the top of the show, the announce team acknowledged the death of long-time producer Bruce Connal. I did not know Connal, but every tribute that has come out in the past few days has spoken highly of him, not only as a producer, but as a person. On the broadcast, Joe Rogan nearly broke down in tears in a highly emotional moment that tells us the audience all we needed to know about Connal. It was a touching moment - our condolences to Connal’s friends and family.

That’s it from me - what about you? What were your defining moments of UFC 222?