Already one of the sport’s most dangerous submission artists,
Ortega showed off his developing standup skills in a first-round
knockout of future hall of famer Frankie
Edgar in the UFC
222 headliner on March 3 in Las Vegas. “T-City” froze Edgar
with a stepping elbow, hunted the finish and then lifted the former
lightweight champion off his feet with a devastating right
uppercut. Two hammerfists later, Ortega became the first man to
ever stop “The Answer” and cemented himself as the clear No. 1
contender at 145 pounds. The win moves the Rener Gracie protégé
into the second spot in our latest divisional rankings and puts him
in prime position to challenge Max
Holloway for the undisputed UFC featherweight championship
later this year.
Ortega was not the only up-and-coming star to shine at UFC 222.
Nova Uniao export Ketlen
Vieira moved to 10-0 with a split decision over Cat Zingano,
utilizing takedowns and a suffocating top game to spoil the return
of the former title contender. Though the nails-tough Zingano had
her moments, the bout was not as close as the scores indicated.
Vieira has put herself on the short list of possible challengers
for women’s bantamweight champion Amanda
Nunes and rises to No. 3 in our 135-pound rankings.
Kings MMA’s Beneil
Dariush continued his spiral in the lightweight division, as he
was victimized by promotional newcomer Alexander
Hernandez in a 42-second knockout at UFC 222. Dariush, 28, is
now winless (0-2-1) in his last three starts. As a result, he falls
out of our 155-pound rankings, clearing the way for James Vick’s
entry at No. 10 and Bellator
MMA lightweight champion Brent
Primus’ arrival on the list of contenders.