Brian Ortega knocked out Frankie Edgar in the first round at UFC 222 on Saturday.
LAS VEGAS — There is no doubt about Brian Ortega‘s UFC title shot now.
But when Holloway was forced out of a scheduled title defense against Edgar at UFC 222 this weekend due to injury, Ortega, 27, agreed to take his place and battle Edgar for the next shot directly.
The decision worked out well, as Ortega became the first man to ever finish Edgar in an MMA contest, knocking him out with a right uppercut at 4:44 of the opening round. The 145-pound bout co-headlined UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena.
“It feels great, this is something I’ve always envisioned,” Ortega said. “I’ve seen it in my dream. I’ve even seen it in my fears, fears of getting knocked out. I’m making history. To be able to share the Octagon with him is an honor.”
Edgar (22-6-1) has shared the Octagon with the likes of Jose Aldo, B.J. Penn and Urijah Faber but has never been hurt in the way Ortega put him away. As Edgar applied pressure on the feet, Ortega wobbled him with a clean elbow to the temple. After initially retreating, Edgar began to move forward again to tie Ortega up and walked into a monstrous uppercut.
It is only the third knockout of Ortega’s career, but it’s his sixth consecutive finish. He has finished every opponent he has met in the UFC, but this is the first time he has done so in the opening round.
Fighting out of Southern California, Ortega will now face Holloway (19-3) for the undisputed title. Holloway pulled out of the Edgar bout with an ankle injury but is not expected to be out long. Edgar, who fights out of Toms River, New Jersey, sees a two-fight win streak snapped.
UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who claimed he offered to face Edgar at UFC 222 when Holloway withdrew, commented on the bout on social media.
“Frankie’s career deserved for that to be against me tonight,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “Respect Frankie. Love and respect always! A true fighters fighter.”
Sean O’Malley turns in entertaining three-round victory
Bantamweight prospect Sean O’Malley promised his signature “Sugar Show” on Saturday, and a “Sugar Show” is what he delivered.
The 23-year-old dominated Andre Soukhamthath on the feet and nearly submitted him on the ground before gutting out a painful leg injury in the final round. Judges awarded the Arizona-based fighter with unanimous 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28 scores.
Known for his cocky demeanor — and a jaw dropping knockout last July that turned Snoop Dogg into a fan — O’Malley (10-0) delivered one of the more memorable postfight speeches in recent memory. He hurt his right leg while throwing a head kick in the final round and couldn’t stand in the final minute.
As he lay near the fence, O’Malley raised his arms as the scorecards were read and yelled to the Las Vegas crowd, “Welcome to the ‘Sugar Show’ everybody!”
O’Malley knocked Soukhamthath (12-6) down with a right hand in the first round and would have put him away had the round lasted a little longer. Soukhamthath nearly fell over walking back to his corner. He took O’Malley down in the next frame but found himself fighting off triangle and armbar attempts from the bottom.
To his credit, Soukhamthath, of Rhode Island, aggressively went after O’Malley in the third and had success late after the leg injury. He falls to 1-3 overall in the UFC, however. O’Malley collects his second win in the UFC, in addition to a knockout on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Brazilian bantamweight contender Ketlen Vieira (10-0) is knocking on the door of a future title shot, following a clear unanimous decision over Cat Zingano.
Vieira picked up her fourth win in the UFC — two of which have come against former title challengers in Zingano and Sara McMann. She took Zingano down throughout the fight and controlled her on the floor, en route to judges scorecards of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29.
Zingano (9-3) had her moments and fought with a ton of urgency late. She came out in the opening moments of the third round throwing wild but appeared to suffer a left leg injury. Zingano grimaced and hobbled on the leg momentarily. Vieira noticed and took her down immediately.
Fighting out of Alliance MMA in San Diego, Zingano did well defending from the bottom but fell behind on the scorecards as she lost positional battles. Vieira moved to full mount early in the second round and came close to wrapping up an arm triangle moments later, but Zingano escaped and got back to her feet.
Vieira, 26, is potentially only one win away from a title shot. UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is expected to face Raquel Pennington next, but the promotion has not yet made that official. Zingano has now lost three in a row.
Arlovski outlasts Struve in snoozer
Arlovski (27-15) did enough to pick up a unanimous decision win, although that doesn’t say much. Both men fought at a tepid pace, and accidental eye pokes broke up what little action there was. All three judges scored it, nevertheless, for Arlovski: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
“I want to be champion again, one step at a time,” said Arlovski, who held the UFC title back in 2005.
Although Arlovski never had Struve in trouble, he at least seemed to try. He landed several hard leg kicks early on and clocked Struve with an overhand right in the third.
Struve (28-10) appeared stuck in place throughout. According to Fightmetric, he managed to land just 37 strikes in the 15-minute bout and surrendered a handful of easy takedowns to his 39-year-old opponent.
In the final 10 seconds, Struve angrily opened up with a flurry, which only made one wonder where that had been the whole fight. He shook his head at the floor when the final bell sounded.
Arlovski, who trained at American Top Team for the bout, has now won two in a row, after losing five straight prior to that. Struve drops his second consecutive loss.
www.espn.com – TOP