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UFC 222 live updates: Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya

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Cris Cyborg (19-1) defends her women’s featherweight title against Yana Kunitskaya (10-3) in the UFC 222 main event on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.The co-main event features number 2 featherweight contender Frankie Edgar (21-5-1) vs. number 3 featherweight contender Brian Ortega (13-0) in a fight for a title shot at champion Max Holloway. Other fights on the pay-per-view card include Sean O’Malley (9-0) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (12-5), bantamweights; No. 10 Stefan Struve (32-9) vs. No. 12 Andrei Arlovski (26-15), heavyweights and No. 6 Cat Zingano (9-2) vs. No. 5 Ketlen Vieira (9-0), women’s bantamweights.

UFC women’s featherweight title: Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Yana Kunitskaya live round-by-round coverage

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is one of the most accomplished fighters in the sport, undefeated in MMA competition since 2005. Her size and power has made her a feared force for opponents. Yana Kunitskaya is a heavy underdog. She is the former Invicta bantamweight champion and is 10-3 (1 no contest) in MMA.

Round 1. Justino lands a big punch early but Kunitskaya drops down and gets a takedown. Justino tries to stand up but in the process Kunitskaya tries to take her back. Kunitskaya can’t control the body and Justino gets out of danger. Kunitskaya looks for another takedown up against the cage. Justino defends well and they trade knees to the body. Kunitskaya backs away. Justino opens up with her strikes and drops Kunitskaya with a punch. Kunitskaya survives and gets up but gets dropped with another punch. Justino goes to town on the ground and the fight is stopped.

Winner: Cris “Cyborg” Justino, TKO, round 1.

Kunitskaya gave it her best effort early but Justino’s striking was too much for her, as has been the case with so many opponents over the years.

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Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega live round-by-round coverage

Frankie Edgar was originally supposed to challenge Max Holloway for the UFC featherweight title on this show. Holloway had to pull out with an injury so now Edgar will take on Brian Ortega for the right to face Holloway. Edgar is a future Hall of Famer, a gritty and skilled veteran who has fought the best and beaten so many of the best fighters of his era. Ortega is a unique fighter who often gets behind in fights but then gets finishes to keep winning. Ortega is 13-0 (1 no contest) over the course of his career and this is his biggest challenge to date.

Round 1. Edgar opens with a few leg kicks. Edgar moves in with punches but Ortega shows some pretty good hands that prevent Edgar from getting too aggressive. Edgar lands a nice hook. Ortega begins to move forward more as the fight progresses. Ortega throws a nice lunging kick. Edgar connects with a solid two punch combination. Ortega looks for a standing guillotine choke briefly but doesn’t come Ortega stuns Edgar with an elbow. He follows with a series of punches and a head kick. He knocks Edgar out with an uppercut and follows with punches on the ground.

Winner: Brian Ortega, KO, round 1.

That was a massive win for Brian Ortega. Edgar has one of the best chins in the sport but Ortega put him away in spectacular fashion. Ortega has risen up the ranks quietly but no one will be overlooking him now after that type of win. He is a worthy challenger for Max Holloway and it will be a good test for just how great a fighter Holloway is.

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Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath live round-by-round coverage

Sean O’Malley was the most talked about fighter on Dana White’s contender series and he has been given prominent spots in his two UFC fights since. He is undefeated professionally and has an entertaining style. Andre Soukhamthath is 12-5 professionally and is coming off a win.

Round 1. O’Malley appears to hurt Soukhamthath with an early kick to the leg. Soukhamthath utilizes a nice straight right hand. O’Malley knocks Soukhamthath down with a low kick to the other leg. O’Malley is also mixing in some high kicks as well. He has a great diversity of attacks. O’Malley hurts Soukhamthath badly with a right hand and then goes to town with a series of attacks from different angles. Soukhamthath barely survives the round. 10-8 O’Malley.

Round 2. O’Malley comes out throwing a lot of kicks again. Soukhamthath is struggling to establish his own attacks and is letting O’Malley dictate the way the fight progresses. Soukhamthath gets a takedown two minutes in. O’Malley looks for a triangle choke in quick order. O’Malley gives that up to go for an armbar but gets neither. Soukhamthath gets into side control position but O’Malley is able to gain half guard. O’Malley attacks with a guillotine choke and Soukhamthath rolls out to the bottom to get out. O’Malley takes side control on the top and looks for a rear naked choke at the end. 10-9 O’Malley.

Round 3. Soukhamthath looks for a takedown to start the third. O’Malley prevents that and lands a hard kick and punch. O’Malley appears to injure his leg but Soukhamthath goes to the ground with O’Malley rather than forcing O’Malley to stand. Soukhamthath moves into side control and looks to set up a crucifix. O’Malley avoids that and stands back up. O’Malley is hopping on one leg and can barely move but in a baffling bit of strategy, Soukhamthath takes him back down. O’Malley hits a spinning elbow as he gets up and Soukhamthath takes him back down. Soukhamthath lands a knee to the body and attacks the neck. 10-8 Soukhamthath, 28-27 O’Malley. O’Malley is left crying out in pain, lying on the floor, unable to stand.

Winner: Sean O’Malley, unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28).

It’s really hard to overstate just how stupid Andre Soukhamthath’s strategy was. It may be the worst strategy in the history of the sport of mixed martial arts. Sean O’Malley suffered a severe injury to his leg and rather than just backing away and forcing a stoppage, Soukhamthath took O’Malley down multiple times and allowed O’Malley to survive the round and win a fight that he wouldn’t have been able to finish had Soukhamthath not done the only thing that would have prevented him from winning.

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Stefan Struve vs. Andre Arlovski live round-by-round coverage

Stefan Struve is one of the younger stars in a generally old heavyweight division. He has remarkable height but has never been that good at exploiting his reach advantage. He is coming off a loss. Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion and is one of the most accomplished heavyweights in MMA history. Now 39, he is likely reaching the end of his storied career.

Round 1. Arlovski lands some low kicks early that connect hard. Arlovski follows with a right hand up the middle. Arlovski uses a trip takedown. Arlovski then lets Struve back up. Arlovski continues to attack the lead leg of Struve, which is discolored on the thigh. Struve moves in with power punches and they clinch. Arlovski takes Struve down but then stands back up again. Good opening frame for Arlovski. 10-9 Arlovski.

Round 2. Arlovski uses another trip takedown early. Struve attacks the leg from the bottom and looks to crank the ankle but Arlovski lands a hard punch and defends well. Struve takes the top and lands some punches there. Arlovski then explodes back to his feet. Struve tries to take Arlovski back down but Arlovski grabs the fence twice to stop it. Arlovski takes an eye poke late. 10-9 Struve.

Round 3. The pace is slow early in the third with neither man throwing or landing much of consequence. Struve takes an eye poke that causes a brief delay. Arlovski lands a hard right hand. Arlovski clinches and looks for a trip takedown but doesn’t get it at first. Arlovski tries it again and gets it this time. Struve gets up and swings wildly at the close. 10-9 Arlovski, 29-28 Arlovski.

Winner: Andrei Arlovski, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

Andrei Arlovski has found ways to defy expectations plenty of times over the years and he did it again tonight with an upset win. It wasn’t his most scintillating performance but he won solidly over a unique opponent. For Struve, it’s another disappointing setback in an up and down career.

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Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira live round-by-round coverage

The bantamweight division was once the undisputed marquee division for women’s MMA. That has changed over the past couple years as top fighters have left the sport and others have moved to the newly instituted featherweight and flyweight divisions. That exodus has opened up opportunities for the remaining fighters including Cat Zingano and Ketlen Vieira. Zingano is a former title challenger looking for another shot with Vieira is undefeated in MMA with three UFC victories.

Round 1. Zingano moves in and walks right into a hard straight punch. Zingano lands a solid overhand right of her own and clinches but Vieira backs up. Vieira catches Zingano with another punch in an exchange. Zingano lands a left hand and clinches but can’t do anything from there. Vieira’s boxing looks really crisp. Zingano goes for a takedown but Vieira sprawls and defends well. Zingano clinches and lands a couple of knees to the body. Vieira uses a trip takedown with a little over a minute remaining. Vieira looks to pass into full mount but isn’t able to secure the position. 10-9 Vieira.

Round 2. Zingano pushes forward to start the round but gets reversed with a beautiful judo throw. Vieira lands in full mount and looks to set up an arm triangle choke. Zingano pushes her off impressively but Vieira controls the legs and prevents Zingano from getting back up. Vieira drops down into Zingano’s guard. They grapple for position there, with Vieira looking to pass and Zingano working hard to prevent her from doing so. Vieira lands some punches here and there in the process. 10-9 Vieira. Zingano likely needs a finish in the third.

Round 3. Zingano throws a kick and Vieira checks it. Zingano immediately registers great pain in the foot and Vieira takes her down. Vieira lands punches from the top and controls Zingano. Zingano gets out and returns to her feet. Vieira seizes control there and looks to take Zingano back down. They end up in a stalemate and are separated. Zingano moves in swinging wild looping punches but Vieira clinches and the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Vieira, 30-27 Vieira.

Winner: Ketlen Vieira, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

Those are some strange, strange scorecards. None of the rounds felt close and the second two didn’t feel remotely close. In any event, the right fighter won and Vieira should now be in line for a title shot which she has earned.

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Mackenzie Dern vs. Ashley Yoder live round-by-round coverage

This is the UFC debut for Mackenzie Dern, a jiu-jitsu world champion thought to be very marketable in MMA. She takes on Ashley Yoder, who is 0-2 thus far in the UFC.

Round 1. Dern comes out throwing wild punches and then clinches. Dern lands a few knees to the body and attempts a trip takedown that Yoder blocks. The fighters separate. Yoder lands a few solid kicks low. Dern lunges in throwing wildly and clinches again. Yoder eats a few knees but then separates. Dern lands a few punches and again clinches. Dern briefly gets Yoder up but Yoder returns to her feet in quick order and gets away. Yoder lands a few kicks and a straight left hand. 10-9 Yoder.

Round 2. Yoder has success with her boxing early in the second, landing some hard left hands. Dern clinches again. Dern can’t set up the takedown there. Yoder drops Dern with a left hook. Dern gets up and appears fine but she is bleeding and struggling in this fight. Dern goes for a takedown late but again doesn’t get it. 10-9 Yoder.

Round 3. Dern lands a right hand and moves in for a takedown. Again she is blocked. Yoder lands a few punches on separation. They end up back in a clinch trading knees to the body. Dern finally gets a takedown in the last two minutes. Dern immediately looks to take the back. Dern sinks in both hooks and lands a series of punches. Dern looks for the rear naked choke and she may need it to win. Dern squeezes the jaw but can’t get under the chin and Yoder survives. Dern lands some big punches at the end. Dern didn’t have that position quite long enough to justify a 10-8. 10-9 Dern, 29-28 Yoder.

Winner: Mackenzie Dern, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

That was a tough fight for Dern. She struggled with Yoder’s striking and couldn’t get the takedowns except at the very end. On the plus side, she has an entertaining style to watch plus she came on strong at the end and picked up the win on the judges’ scorecards.

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Beneil Dariush vs. Alexander Hernandez live round-by-round coverage

Beneil Dariush is an excellent, well-rounded fighter who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves because he competes in such a deep division at lightweight. Alexander Hernandez is taking this fight on short notice. He makes his UFC debut with an 8-1 pro record.

Round 1. Hernandez comes out with a body kick. Dariush answers with some punches but Hernandez then knocks Dariush out cold with a straight left hand. Hernandez lands a few additional punches on the ground but it was already over.

Winner: Alexander Hernandez, KO, round 1.

That was an exemplary performance by Hernandez in his UFC debut. He came out confidently and put away a dangerous opponent in quick order. It’s often difficult to gauge how good a fighter is in such a short fight but Hernandez looks like one to watch.

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John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz live round-by-round coverage

John Dodson is a very small bantamweight but packs a lot of power and has great speed as well. Pedro Munhoz has four straight wins in the UFC including three submissions.

Round 1. Dodson catches a Munhoz kick and lands a few punches in response. Dodson catches another kick moments later. He then catches a third. It’s a testament to his reflexes Dodson is having such success with that. Dodson connects with a few quick punches. Munhoz lands a knee to the head coming in. Dodson catches another kick. Both men connect with hard punches in a late exchange. 10-9 Dodson.

Round 2. Munhoz continues to move in and throw kicks but Dodson’s speed and timing allow him to consistently get the best of the exchanges and Munhoz hasn’t done much to get the fight to the ground. Munhoz bloodies Dodson’s nose with a punch. Dodson answers back with a couple punches of his own. Dodson catches a kick. Munhoz keeps coming and he is landing more as he ups the pressure. Dodson lands a nice pair of jabs. Munhoz just keeps moving forward. 10-9 Munhoz.

Round 3. Munhoz walks in with a right hand at the start and charges in with additional punches. Dodson lands a nice left hand. Dodson begins moving more, striking and then ducking out rather than allowing Munhoz to continually work his way into close range. Dodson catches Munhoz with a few counters as Munhoz comes in. Munhoz gets a takedown in the final minute. Dodson gets back up late and they trade at the end with most men landing hard punches. 10-9 Dodson, 29-28 Dodson.

Winner: John Dodson, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27).

Pedro Munhoz gave John Dodson some problems with his pressure but ultimately Dodson had the better striking and he picked up an important win against a capable foe.

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C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard live round-by-round coverage

This is a battle of quite well known fighters for such a low spot on the card. Dollaway was an Ultimate Fighter finalist and has competed in the UFC since 2008. Hector Lombard is a judo Olympian with knockout power and was once one of the top middleweights in the sport. He is coming off four consecutive losses.

Round 1. Dollaway swings with a wild head kick that soars by Lombard at the start. Dollaway attacks the body with kicks while Lombard looks to set up one of his big power shots. Lombard opens up with a few big punches but doesn’t connect with anything too substantial. Lombard attacks with a series of leg kicks. Lombard landed a heavy punch that appeared to badly hurt Dollaway after the bell. 10-9 Dollaway.

Winner: C.B. Dollaway, disqualification, round 1.

Dollaway decided not to continue and the fight was stopped. The fight was ruled a disqualification, the correct call given the punch connected very hard and was clearly after the bell.

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Mike Pyle vs. Zak Ottow live round-by-round coverage

Remarkably, Mike Pyle has been competing professionally in MMA since 1999 and the well traveled veteran has fought many of the sport’s best. Now 42, Pyle is coming off two straight knockout losses and announced this will be his retirement fight. Zak Ottow is 15-5 and has alternated wins and losses in UFC competition.

Round 1. Ottow is more active early, throwing punches and kicks from range. He doesn’t connect with much while Pyle waits for his opportunity. Ottow knocks Pyle down with a right hand that Pyle doesn’t respond well to. Ottow keeps landing punches until it is stopped.

Winner: Zak Ottow, TKO, round 1.

Mike Pyle has been a great competitor for years but his chin hasn’t held up in recent fights and that was another example.

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Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann live round-by-round coverage

Bryan Caraway is a respected veteran of the sport who has accumulated an impressive 6-2 UFC record. Caraway won a big fight last time out against Aljamain Sterling but he hasn’t fought in nearly two years. Cody Stamann is also coming off a big win over the highly touted Tom Duquesnoy and is 16-1 overall in MMA competition.

Round 1. Caraway shoots in for a takedown early. He can’t get his first attempt and ends up in a clinch attempting the second. Caraway gives it up and backs off. Caraway shoots in for another takedown and again ends up in a clinch. Caraway lands a few nice punches but Stamann then comes in and lands a few quality punches of his own. Caraway finally gets his takedown with less than two minutes left. He ends up in Stamann’s half guard. Caraway gets out of Stamann’s guard and triangles Stamann’s head. Caraway then looks for a late kimura. He transitions into an armbar attempt at the very end. 10-9 Caraway.

Round 2. The fighters trade jabs early. Caraway shoots for a takedown but has it stuffed. Caraway lands an uppercut. Stamann blocks another takedown attempt and lands a hard punch. Stamann blocks another takedown while Caraway continues to wade in with punches. Caraway shoots for another takedown but has it blocked and eats a couple knees in the process. Stamann blocks yet another takedown at the end and lands a couple knees. 10-9 Stamann.

Round 3. Stamann connects with an impressive two-punch combination early. Caraway swings at air in response. Caraway again goes for a takedown at the midpoint of the round and works hard for it by the cage. Caraway has to give it up. Caraway shoots again and fails. Stamann then lands a big punch. Stamann appears to be pulling away although the takedown threat from Caraway remains. They trade in the clinch at the end. Caraway grabs a guillotine choke and tries to finish right at the close. Caraway made it close there at the end but still Stamann’s round by a hair. 10-9 Stamann, 29-28 Stamann.

Winner: Cody Stamann, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

That was a tough one. Caraway won the first round handily with his ground work. The second round was closer but Stamann had it. That left the third round where both men had their moments. That made for an understandable split decision.

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Jordan Johnson vs. Adam Milstead live round-by-round coverage

Jordan Johnson is an undefeated competitor who comes from a wrestling background and has two wins thus far in the UFC Octagon. The underdog Adam Milstead is fighting for the first time in a little over a year. He lost his last bout to Curtis Blaydes but the result was then overturned because of a drug test failure for marijuana by Blaydes.

Round 1. Milstead comes in swinging and lands a few hard punches early. Johnson attempts to clinch a minute and a half in but Milstead prevents him from getting a good grip. Milstead continues to land well with his right hand. Johnson shoots for a takedown but doesn’t get it. Johnson goes for another takedown and this time at least gets Milstead in a clinch by the cage. Milstead lands a nice elbow and Johnson backs off. Milstead connects with a quality uppercut. Strong start for Milstead. 10-9 Milstead.

Round 2. Milstead lands a few jabs to start off the round and appears to grin at Johnson confidently. Milstead trips moving in and Johnson goes in for a takedown attempt. Johnson lands some punches to the thigh while working for the takedown. Milstead responds by lands some harder punches to the head. The fighters are separated. Milstead lands a hard right hand on the break before Johnson finally gets Milstead down. Milstead quickly returns to his feet. 10-10. Milstead accomplished nothing instigating clinches and doesn’t deserve to be rewarded for it in the scoring.

Round 3. Milstead lands a big right hand early. Johnson moves in for a clinch but can’t keep Milstead under control. Johnson gets a takedown and has Milstead down briefly against the cage. Milstead is bleeding. Milstead stands up. Milstead lands some hard punches at the close. 10-9 Milstead, 30-28 Milstead.

Winner: Jordan Johnson, split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28).

Judges have been taught to reward fighters who instigate ineffectual clinch stalemates and this was another example.

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Cris Cyborg’s quick turnaround proves her moto: ‘Anywhere, any time’

Cris Cyborg trades punches with Holly Holm.
(Associated Press)

Cris Cyborg’s rapid return to the octagon to headline Saturday’s UFC 222 only two months after her Dec. 30 title defense is uncommon, considering that bout went five grueling rounds.

Cyborg confided her uncommon pain threshold is the reason. After a classic stand-up slugfest with former UFC and world boxing champion Holly Holm, in which Cyborg prevailed by decision, she revealed she awoke the next morning with no discomfort.

“I really don’t have anything, like, hurt,” Cyborg (19-1) said.

The Costa Mesa-based champion from Brazil certainly knows how to inflict pain, however, which she plans to do in her second title defense against Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya (10-3) at T-Mobile Arena.

In exchange for the quick turnaround, the UFC hype machine officially anointed Cyborg as the “baddest woman on the planet” instead of former champion and current WWE star Ronda Rousey

“You know fighters always say, ‘Anywhere, any time,’ but in reality we always know there’s going to be a long time between our fights,” Cyborg said. “This is old school. I was taught to always stay prepared and be ready, and when they called me and said they’d like me to fight [Kunitskaya], I checked my weight and said, ‘Let’s do that, it’s a great opportunity.’”

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