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Fights Added To UFC 222 But Card Seemingly Remains In Crisis

Next month’s UFC 222 card has officially gained a bantamweight bout and seems also to have gained a women’s featherweight contest but neither fight will solve the show’s main event crisis.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal confirmed on Tuesday that bantamweights John Dodson and Pedro Munhoz will do battle at the T-Mobile Arena on March 3rd. That fight was originally scheduled to take place at the Fight Night card in Belem this past weekend but collapsed after Munhoz missed weight.

It also looks as though Invicta FC bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya will make her UFC debut on the card. Kunistkaya, who is making the move up to featherweight, was initially supposed to face Sara McMann at UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando on the 24th of February but McMann was shifted to another slot on the card, opposite Marion Reneau, after Tonya Evinger withdrew through injury. On Tuesday, Kunitskaya claimed via Twitter that she will now face fellow UFC debutant Leah Letson at UFC 222 instead.

There remains some chance, however, that this card will be cancelled entirely in the coming days and these fights will be once again looking for new homes.

It emerged over the weekend that UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway had been forced withdraw from the show’s headliner, a title defence against former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, due to a leg injury. The UFC has since attempted to piece together a fight between Edgar and third-ranked featherweight contender Brian Ortega and sought to make a title fight to serve as the new headliner. According to the latest updates from MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani, Edgar vs. Ortega is now “all but done” but the UFC has so far been unable to book a title fight, despite efforts to make the T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt bantamweight title rematch and women’s featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino vs. the aforementioned Kunitskaya.

“If UFC can’t find a title fight to headline 3/3 (and thus far no luck), there’s a good chance they’ll turn the PPV into a Fight Night and have Edgar-Ortega be a 5-rounder,” Helwani wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

“Doesn’t appear as though Dillashaw-Garbrandt will happen on 3/3. They also tried to book Cyborg-Kunitskaya but that’s not happening either. Canceling the card altogether is also on the table. They tried to book Edgar-Ortega on the Orlando card to beef that up but it’s too soon.

“So, lots still up in the air. Last resort is to cancel the card. They’d rather not turn it into a Fight Night but they’ll have to if they can’t produce a title fight and right now there just aren’t many title fight options for less than a month away. Developing.”

Nate Diaz, who hasn’t fought since August of 2016 when he lost a decision to Conor McGregor at UFC 202, recently expressed an interest in filling the void left by Holloway’s withdrawal. The UFC was never going to be able to book Diaz in a title fight and the promotion has rarely headlined Pay-per-view events with non-title fights, but when they found themselves in a sticky situation ahead of UFC 196 in March of 2016, matchmakers did book a non-title fight between Diaz and McGregor in the main event. This is another sticky situation. (The lucrative McGregor vs. Diaz 2 also headlined UFC 202 despite not being for a title.) However, UFC president Dana White has ruled out the possibility of Diaz making his return on the card, indicating that he doesn’t believe the Stockton slugger’s offer to save the show was sincere.

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