With an up-and-down 2017 coming to an end for the UFC, the promotion has one event left – UFC 219 – and it’s certainly expected to be an exciting one.
The event is set to go down this Saturday night (Dec. 30, 2017) live on pay-per-view (PPV) from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between champion Cris Cyborg and ex-women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
In the co-main event, undefeated lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov will make his long-awaited return against dangerous striker Edson Barboza.
Without further ado, let’s take a look a deeper look into UFC 219’s top fights:
Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm
It could be argued that UFC 219’s main event is the biggest fight in the history of women’s mixed martial arts, and for good reason, as Cyborg and Holm are two of the best to compete in that category.
Cyborg, the reigning and defending 145-pound champion, has long been one of the most feared female fighters on the planet. Holding a professional record of 18-1-1, the Brazilian hasn’t lost since 2005. She’s 18-0-1 in the time since with 16 of those victories coming by way of knockout.
Although most of her career has taken place outside of the Octagon, she’s now 3-0 in the UFC since entering the promotion in 2016. All three of those wins have come by way of stoppage, and now that she’s solely competing at her preferred weight of 145 pounds, she appears to be in the prime of her career.
A dangerous striker, Cyborg has made a career off of relentless pressure and aggressiveness. She’s powerful, fast and tends to stalk her opponents down while putting together effective combinations.
Although the power in her hands is unlike that of many of her female counterparts, Cyborg’s striking arsenal is filled with a variety of techniques. She has a background in Muay Thai and uses elbows, knees, and kicks effectively as well.
Although her strengths lie on the feet, Cyborg is no slouch on the ground. Her sole loss has come by way of submission, but that was many years ago. She now holds a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and hones her skills under Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles in Southern California. Cyborg also possesses incredible takedown defense, boasting a 95% rating.
If the fight does indeed end up on the canvas, which I don’t expect it to, Cyborg likely holds the advantage.
Given that it should take place on the feet, it’s important to note that Holm is also one of the very best strikers in women’s MMA, and she has a style that could give a fighter like Cyborg trouble.
A former professional boxer, Holm has won multiple titles in boxing, defending them 18 times.
Her best weapons are her left cross as well as her left high kick. In addition, she moves incredibly well, using lateral movement and different angles to land the shots she wants. This movement could give an aggressive brawler like Cyborg some difficulty.
As far as the ground game goes, Holm prefers to strike, but she trains at the world famous Jackson-Wink gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she’s been rounding out her skills. She’ll also likely come into the fight with a strong gameplan.
Ultimately, I can see this fight going either way.
Holm should look to establish her distance, move constantly, and keep Cyborg on the outside where she can pick her apart with strikes.
Cyborg, on the other hand, should look to do the opposite and close the distance where she can land heavy shots on the lengthy Holm.
In the end, I see the latter taking place. I feel that Cris Cyborg is too relentless, too aggressive, and too powerful.
Prediction: Cris Cyborg def. Holly Holm via third-round TKO