In what was – hyperbole aside – genuinely one of the biggest female mixed martial arts bouts of all time, dominant UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg met former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm in the main event of tonight’s (Sat., December 30, 2017) UFC 219 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cyborg had been exactly what people expected her to be in the UFC, winning three straight by finish and winning the women’s 145-pound title with a third-round knockout of Tonya Evinger at last July’s UFC 214. She was already regarded as the best female fighter in the history of the sport, and a victory over Holm would go further in solidifying that.
“”The Preacher’s Daughter” was presented with another golden opportunity in many ways like her shocking UFC 193 win over dominant then-champion Ronda Rousey. However, the pride of Albuquerque walked an up-and-down path after defeating “Rowdy” that fateful November night two years ago, losing three straight fights before finally rebounding with a brutal and impressive head kick knockout of Bethe Correia this June.
It was as pivotal a match-up the UFC women’s arena could stage, and it would shape the direction of a female featherweight division that had little competition outside of these two recognizable names.
The fight started with Cyborg aggressive and Holm using more movement. Holm landed a right hand and then briefly dropped Cyborg off a kick attempt. Holm looked to clinch but soon broke, and Cyborg landed a low kick. Holm landed a hard right hand followed by a left as Cyborg stalked her. Holm’s rushing strikes were working early as she stuck and move in and out of the pocket, but Cyborg appeared unfazed. The champ landed a body kick and a flurry of punches, but Holm scored a combo of her own and clinched. ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ appeared to control the clinches, and landed a kick as Cyborg threw a Superman punch as the first frame ended.
The second kicked off with Holm snapping a straight shot as Cyborg threw a low kick. Cyborg answered with a big combo and followed with another to counter a Holm strike. As Holm rushed in, Cyborg kept nailing her with solid shots and a body kick. However, Cyborg was bleeding from the nose, more damage than anyone else had been able to hand her in the Octagon. Holm clinched again and rushed in on the break, only to eat another hard punch from Cyborg. But she landed a big elbow off the break, following it with a left hand. Holm controlled a clinch again, and Cyborg ended the round strong with another kick and power punches.
A close fight was on, and the third saw Holm come out with a swollen left eye. Cyborg looked for a clinch of her own, landing a knee to the body. The action slowed a bit until the fighters exchanged strikes and Holm barely missed with her trademark left kick. Cyborg landed a huge right hand as she stalked forward, but Holm answered with a two-punch combo followed by a kick. Cyborg scored with a knee to the body again and kept the pressure high. Holm went for the kick again but Cyborg responded with a takedown attempt. Pressure came nonstop from Cyborg, who rocked Holm as the third frame ended.
The fourth round kicked off and Cyborg was in rare territory. Holm tagged her with a left hand and rushed in again, but Cyborg countered her. A body kick scored from Cyborg and more hooks followed. She landed a high kick and a right hand as she kept the pressure on. Holm landed again with her left hand, but it didn’t have nearly the same pop as Cyborg’s punches. Holm clinched on the fence again and Cyborg broke to chase her down. A decent combo arrived from Holm, but Cyborg rocked her with a jab soon thereafter.
Few expected a fifth and final round from this fight, yet it arrived nonetheless and was kicked off with a strong kick from Holm. Holm pressed the pace somewhat more, and Cyborg clinched her up close to the cage wall to land a body kick. Kicks landed from Holm, yet Cyborg’s appeared to have more juice on them. The champ landed several big punches and another kick. Straight punches landed for the champ followed by a head kick. Cyborg’s jab was stifling to Holm’s forward pressure, as ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’s’ combos fell short while the champion’s landed. Holm scored some good shots in the last minute, to which Cyborg responded with big knees to the body. The back-and-forth fight ended with more vicious knees from the Brazilian legend.
In the end, Cyborg deservedly earned her first title defense with a unanimous decision win over Holm.