Cris Cyborg to defend belt; Frankie Edgar to meet Brian Ortega at UFC 222

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Women’s featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino will face Yana Kunitskaya in the main event of UFC 222 on March 3 in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White announced. (Getty Images)

With Max Holloway unable to defend his featherweight title at UFC 222 because of an injury, the UFC turned to its women’s featherweight champion to save the show.

Cris “Cyborg” Justino will defend her belt against former Invicta bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya on March 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in the new main event. The UFC tabbed Brian Ortega to fight Edgar in a three-round, non-title bout in the co-main event.

UFC president Dana White announced the moves on “UFC Tonight” on Fox Sports 2 on Wednesday, following a report earlier in the day on MMA Fighting.

Justino has been in Portugal and it’s not clear how much she has been training. Kunitskaya, who will be making her UFC debut, trains at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was one of Holly Holm’s training partners when Holm fought Justino for the belt at UFC 219 in December.

A striker, Kunitskaya is 2-2 with a no-contest in her last five fights.

“She’s strong in the clinch or can fight at long range,” Invicta president Shannon Knapp said. “She’s able to end a fight quickly, as we saw against [Tonya] Evinger, or has the cardio to go five rounds. And she’s tough as Mother Russia.”

Ortega is 13-0 with one no-contest and is coming off an impressive second-round submission victory over Cub Swanson in December. The winner of the bout will likely face Holloway when Holloway is healthy and ready to return to competition.