Fox Sports Asia previews UFC 222 and shares our predictions for the Edgar-Oretga bout.
The co-main event of the card has two talented fighters squaring off against one another as #2 ranked featherweight Frankie Edgar faces #3 ranked Brian Ortega. This is a late matchup after current champion Max Holloway was forced to pull out of the original championship bout with Edgar due to injury. But this should still prove to be a barn burner. Both fighters are exciting and both are tough.
Frankie Edgar has been in the UFC for over 10 years now and was once a great lightweight champion, who successfully defended his title until he met Benson Henderson. He has since dropped to featherweight where he has suffered only two losses, both coming from the hands of Jose Aldo. Edgar has impeccable boxing skills that he mixes well with wrestling, constantly keeping his opponents guessing whether the fight will stay standing or they will be forced to fight off their backs. Not only is he explosive and powerful but he also has the ability to set and keep a high pace through a 5-round fight. Over the years, watching Edgar fight has been a pure delight as he consistently brings a well-groomed skillset to the cage, and I have no doubt he will show up ready to throw down for UFC 222.
Brian Ortega is a rising star who hit the UFC running in 2014, suffering a debut loss which was later overturned to a no contest when Mike De La Torre failed his drug test. Since then Ortega has used his ‘Diaz-esque’ striking style, combined with his strong Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background to end his five other UFC fights before the final bell. Ortega is no stranger to championship rounds, as he fought to 5-round decisions when winning two belts in his pre-UFC days. Ortega also has the ability to set and keep a fast pace, all the while being dangerous and looking to finish his fights in any fashion. Ortega comes into this fight with a 13-0-0 (1 NC) record, as well as a height, reach and age advantage, which I am hoping he will try to capitalize on.
While Edgar has far more experience than Ortega, with his 22-5-1 MMA record, this fight will come down to game plan and execution. We will see if Ortega is able to counter Edgar’s explosive boxing/wrestling style using his range and strong BJJ. Ortega is proving himself to be a top BJJ practitioner in MMA, which will keep Edgar on guard for the entirety of this fight. I expect the fight will start at a fast pace and stay there, as it is only a 3-round fight and both fighters have proven they can go hard for 5 rounds. I personally feel that Edgar is going to walk away with a decision win here, using his strong boxing/wrestling style to overcome Ortega’s ‘Diaz-esque’ boxing style and BJJ countergame. Don’t blink because this is the real main event of UFC 222!
Tommy “WildCard” Hayden is a former UFC fighter and Head MMA Coach at Elite Fight Club, Bangkok.