UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm is scheduled for 30 December from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and like all the UFC’s year-end shows, it’s stacked to the brim with great fights, including Holly Holm versus Cris Cyborg, for the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship. Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Edson Barboza in the co-main event slot, John Lineker versus Jimmie Rivera as the featured fight of the evening, and much, much more. Dedicated and casual MMA followers alike should accordingly be sure to spend one of 2017’s final nights with some spectacular combat sports action.
Let’s take a look at what MMA fans can expect from UFC 219!
Cris Cyborg versus Holly Holm—for the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship
Finally, after a great deal of back-and-forth negotiating, a title fight between UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg and former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm has been finalized. This bout—UFC 219’s headliner—is arguably the best and most significant female fight in the history of MMA. More than being a battle for the featherweight crown, though, the fight is a battle of honor, as Cris Cyborg has a chance to prove that she is the best female fighter of all-time. Holly Holm has the opportunity to spoil the party and move one step closer to becoming the female GOAT herself.
Coming into this match-up against Holm, Cyborg has lost just once as a professional mixed martial artist—in her very first fight, which took place in 2005. Since then, she’s won an astounding eighteen times, against the likes of Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen, Tonya Evinger, and more, and has held the featherweight belt in Strikeforce, Invicta, and the UFC. Equally as important as Cyborg’s phenomenal triumphs is the fashion in which she secured them: with her heavy hands and vicious strikes. To be sure, sixteen of her eighteen victories have come by way of knockout or TKO.
All of Cyborg’s opponents have known of her power and striking prowess, but all have been unable to stop her from connecting and eventually winning. With that said, Cyborg hasn’t fought anyone quite like former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, and that’s precisely why fans are eagerly anticipating their bout.
“The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm rose to international fame following her remarkable head-kick knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. As a massive underdog, Holm won emphatically, claimed the bantamweight crown, and became the very first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey during her professional MMA career. Since that match, Holm has picked up another devastating head-kick knockout—this time over Bethe Correia—and has firmly established herself as a well-versed mixed martial arts striker—a title that’s accentuated by her numerous boxing championships, as she was for many years a leading competitor and world champion in the Sweet Science.
There’s no telling how exactly Cyborg versus Holm will play-out, but fans can expect a striking-centered affair, as both women love to stand and trade. Cyborg is however used to being the striking aggressor, while Holm likes to sit back and counterpunch (and kick) her opponents. Look for Cyborg to charge forward and attempt to land one of her substantial overhand rights, and for Holm to feel the Brazilian’s timing out during the early rounds while trying to find a home for a rangy kick later in the match.
Additionally, while Holm has fought as a featherweight once, Cyborg has made a career out of doing so, and to be sure, is such a physically large fighter that, by her admission, even coming close to making bantamweight would be impossible. She will probably have the size advantage over Holm, and if push comes to shove, she may look to exploit this advantage (and Holm’s occasional trouble with ground fighting) by completing a takedown.
Overall, UFC 219’s fantastic main event probably leans towards Cyborg; she’s streaking, physically large, and can turn to the takedown if she needs to. But this bout’s real appeal can be found in its unpredictability, as there’s once again no way to be sure how it will play-out.
Official Prediction: Cris Cyborg def. Holly Holm via TKO, Round 4
Co-Main Event: Edson Barboza versus Khabib Nurmagomedov
The UFC lightweight division is perhaps the most competitive and fast-changing in all of MMA; the last five men to claim the crown will have, at the time of UFC 219, not defended the belt more than a single time before being defeated. And few fighters better convey just how cutthroat the competition is in the UFC’s lightweight class than Edson Barboza and Khabib Nurmagomedov—two men who could very well fight for the title in the near future.
Bluntly put, Edson Barboza has no weakness inside the Octagon. The well-versed Brazilian can just as easily smash an opponent with a spinning wheel kick while striking as he can trap an opponent with a guillotine choke on the mat. However, if pressed, most fans will probably admit that Barboza’s real specialty is his stand-up. He possesses a unique combination of flexibility, power, and accuracy that is seldom seen, and that has resulted in a highlight reel jam-packed with blistering finishes. Barboza has earned victories over Evan Dunham, Bobby Green, Paul Felder, Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez, Beneil Dariush, and many others.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, a hard-nosed Dagestani and American Kickboxing Academy product, rarely wastes his time striking, but instead relies on his well-known wrestling specialty to power opponents to the mat and overwhelm them once there. Nurmagomedov is accordingly a rare, rare fighter, much in the same way Cyborg is, in that all his opponents know what he’ll try to do, but are unable to stop him from doing so. To date, Nurmagomedov is undefeated as a professional—including twenty-four total fights and eight UFC bouts. He’s bested the likes of Michael Johnson, Rafael dos Anjos, Gleison Tibau, and many others, and he’s the last and most successful example of a pure grappler in MMA.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Nurmagomedov will probably shoot in for takedowns against Barboza, and Edson will try to counter these attempts with his outstanding flying strikes. It’s very tough to predict whether or not Barboza will clip Khabib outright, but the undefeated Russian does have a couple key factors besides his opponent working against him: a grueling weight cut and ring rust. Nurmagomedov suffered a debilitating knee injury in late 2014, and more recently, had a scheduled fight against Tony Ferguson for the lightweight title canceled because of complications that arose while he (Nurmagomedov) was cutting weight. Khabib, therefore, hasn’t fought since November 2016. Given these other pertinent elements surrounding this match, it’s a distinct possibility that Barboza will catch Nurmagomedov early and win via TKO. However, the longer the fight goes, the more it favors Nurmagomedov.
Official Prediction: Edson Barboza def. Khabib Nurmagomedov via TKO, Round 1
Featured Fight: Jimmie Rivera versus John Lineker
UFC 219’s featured fight is a substantial bantamweight meeting between well-known brawlers Jimmie Rivera and John “Hands of Stone” Lineker. Both Rivera and Lineker have risen to the upper echelon of the bantamweight division (Lineker previously dominated at flyweight, and Rivera was scheduled to face former champion Dominick Cruz here until an injury shook things up), and the winner of their bout will be in an ideal position to fight for the belt next.
As was said, both men love to strike, but the critical difference between them is that Lineker often resolves to brawl, while Rivera won’t hesitate to secure a takedown to win a round and, in turn, win a fight. This stylistic variation is reflected in their records: Rivera has won twenty straight matches, including five UFC victories over the likes of Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida, while Lineker dropped a decision to current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in December 2016, as well as a decision to Ali Bagautinov and six previous career losses.
Lineker can land one of his vicious punches, but it’s likely that Rivera will find a way to do what he does best—win—at UFC 219.
Official Prediction: Jimmie Rivera def. John Lineker via Unanimous Decision
Cynthia Calvillo versus Carla Esparza
The UFC women’s strawweight division becomes more and more stacked with every passing day, and UFC 219’s Calvillo versus Esparza match serves as proof of the point.
Esparza, in addition to being a wrestling expert, is the former UFC Strawweight Champion and the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 20. Her grappling is accordingly excellent, but in recent bouts, she has shown-off impressive striking skills as well.
She’ll need to put all these new skills to use to come out ahead against Cynthia Calvillo, an undefeated martial artist, and Team Alpha Male product. Calvillo is three-and-zero inside the Octagon, with two of these victories having been earned before the final bell. She may very well be the next strawweight star, and we’ll find out one way or the other when she battles Esparza.
Look for Carla to hunt for the takedown and for Calvillo to implement her unique BJJ skills while defending these attempts and searching for submissions.
Official Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo def. Carla Esparza via Guillotine Choke, Round 2
Carlos Condit versus Neil Magny
Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit is a longtime MMA and UFC veteran who is well-known by fans as being one of the most entertaining athletes in the sport. He’s fought for the UFC belt twice, and has made a career of locking horns with some of the best welterweights in all of MMA; he’s defeated the likes of Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, Dong Hyun Kim, Nick Diaz, Martin Kampmann, Thiago Alves, and more.
Neil Magny is a hard worker if ever there was one, and he looks a little bit better than he did in his prior outing every time he steps inside the cage. This unparalleled work ethic has resulted in his tying the record for the most UFC wins in a year (five) and earning triumphs over Tim Means, Erick Silva, Kelvin Gastelum, Hector Lombard, and Johny Hendricks, amongst others.
Both men possess considerable striking skills, but for Condit, these skills are his forte, while Magny is arguably just as well-versed in the wrestling department as he is in stand-up. This wrestling advantage could be the difference in what appears to be, on paper, perhaps the most competitive bout at UFC 219.
Official Prediction: Neil Magny def. Carlos Condit via Rear-Naked Choke, Round 2
Rick Glenn versus Myles Jury
This solid lightweight scrap pits two young-and-rising stars against one another, and the winner will more than likely be catapulted into a match with a top-fifteen opponent.
Both Glenn and Jury are well-rounded and high-level martial artists who, despite not yet being thirty years old, have fought the top-level opposition. Each man is formidable both on the canvas and at striking range, but Jury’s best weapon is probably his jiu-jitsu—which he refers to as “Jury Jitsu,” and claims is a unique and previously unseen variation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Look for Jury to try and close the distance with takedowns, and for Glenn to stick to the outside with his range. This matchup should be a fun and competitive fight, and viewers may be able to say “I’ve been watching him fight for years!” when one of these men competes for the belt or in the main event slot—a distinct eventual possibility.
Official Prediction: Rick Glenn def. Myles Jury via Unanimous Decision
Just in case it still isn’t clear, UFC 219 is a fantastic fight card that every MMA follower should be sure to watch. The bouts described in this piece comprise only some of those that’ll go down at the event, and there’s no telling how all these matches will play out (seriously—take the fight predictions with a grain of salt!). The action once again goes down on 30 December 2017, from Las Vegas, Nevada. And will be broadcast on Fight Pass at 6:30 EST (3:30 PST), and then Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 PM EST (5:00 PM PST), and finally, on pay-per-view at 10:00 PM EST (7:00 PM PST).
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights!
Who You Got?