Cyborg ran through the challenger in the first-round with Brian Ortega demolishing Frankie Edgar in the co-main
Cris Cyborg crushed Yana Kunitskaya in the main event of UFC 222 to ensure the women’s featherweight strap remained tightly wrapped around her waist.
The 32-year-old decimated the Russian challenger in the first round of their makeshift short-notice bout with any threat of an upset buried by the Brazilian’s booming right hand.
But a devastating right is what led to a shock win in the co-main event as Brian Ortega poleaxed Frankie Edgar to put himself in line for a title shot of his own.
CYBORG IS RUNNING OUT OF COMPETITION
It is Cyborg, however, who finds herself in unfortunate territory. The Brazilian’s hegemony over the women’s featherweight division means she is fast becoming a fighter who with each dominant victory, loses.
Unbeaten and relatively untested in the UFC, Cyborg hasn’t lost since her first pro fight, beating senseless one victim after another.
She is one of the best ever to do it, regardless of weight class or gender and yet therein lies the tragic irony to the Cyborg narrative. She is an apex predator in short supply of the sustenance required to translate her undeniable skill and dominance to a widened audience.
Her superiority has become boring, the entire notion of competition eroded with each passing contender failing to mount a legitimate challenge.
Kunitskaya was the latest example but she won’t be the last. The Russian’s expression when Cyborg’s first right-hand landed was that of a panicked deer.
Every strike, she shrunk and this wasn’t a case of an undersized 135-pounder moving up to slaughter.
The former Invicta champ was broader, taller and even stronger in some of the grappling exchanges. But she genuinely looked like someone who had never been hit in the face before whenever Cyborg landed.
The reality is, the champion’s power is such that the force is like of no other female fighter and while Amanda Nunes is next line, the narrative won’t change. A brave effort will earn the bantamweight queen applause, but for Cyborg it will be another shrug of the shoulders in victory.
It’s difficult to know who to pity more the challengers, or the unchallenged.
But the contrasting complexion of the men’s 145lbs to the women’s were laid bare by the fight proceeding Cyborg’s main-event mauling.
Indeed, Ortega might just be the next featherweight champion and that is not a hot-take solely presented because of the coldest knockout you will see this year.
The 27-year-old did what no other fighter has managed yet, stop Frankie Edgar, and he did so by virtually decapitating his head with an uppercut of raw violence.
Ortega is a nasty submission artist, but his striking is developing at such a rate he has to be considered a legitimate contender to dethrone Max Holloway.
Physically, he has the attributes critical in matching the long and rangy Hawaiian with his super-slick composure on the feet or the mat making for a fascinating fight.
With Holloway 26 and Ortega 27, the pair represent the fresh-faced new look of the UFC.
Conor McGregor’s star-pull won’t last forever, but the promotion is already showing there is plenty of new blood to continue the lineage of talent.
The women’s featherweight division is crying out for just that.