UFC is ending the year with a solid card I am super stoked to get drunk and watch. Going down December 30 in Las Vegas, UFC 219 is capped off with the female Featherweight title fight with the top 2 lightweights scrapping for a chance at the title.
Women's Featherweight Title
Cris Cyborg (c) vs. Holly “The Preacher's Daughter” Holm
Cyborg is defending her belt for the first time against one of her toughest test to date. Outside of getting knee bared in her professional MMA debut, she has been untouchable in the cage. She is such a wrecking machine that she was having a very difficult time finding fights. So it wasn’t until March of 2014 that she looked human losing a 5 round decision in a Muay Thai fight with Jorina Baars in Lion Fights. She showed a lot of skill and heart taking that fight. Then we start seeing videos of her pinning Olympic wrestlers in practice a few years later and everyone realizes how much more of a monster she is than we ever knew.
Cyborg is very violent on the feet but she is a legit brown belt in BJJ with some serious wrestling skills. She is terrifying everywhere. Her cardio is more of a mystery than it is suspect as her fights don’t tend to last long.
The preacher’s daughter is well known for her boxing pedigree and being the first to defeat Ronda Rousey. Holly was always a huge 135 pounder so seeing her fight the new 145-pound division is awesome to see. Holly didn’t win her first chance to win the Featherweight strap but will be very motivated this time around (Most likely her last chance at 36 years old). She is coming off a great win finishing Bethe Correia back in June.
Holly has a good style to use her footwork to keep this on the feet, try to frustrate Cyborg and win on points until she sees an opening for a head kick. Cyborg is so relentless on the feet and has the threat of the takedown giving her way more options to win this fight. I think all of the options are going to be too much for Holly.
Prediction: Cyborg by TKO in the fourth round
Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov vs. Edson Barboza
Basically, this is the most elite grappler going against the most elite striker of the division. The big thing with Khabib going into this fight is his weight. He missed weight twice already and couldn’t make it to the scales for his last fight in March 2017. He supposedly has a new nutritionist going into this fight so fingers crossed.
Barboza has a 5-inch reach advantage over the Eagle. This is huge for a guy that is really good at slamming his bones into other peoples soft parts. In the past, he has had difficulties with wrestlers and good pressure. He has come a long way in closing the gaps in his armor but this is his biggest test.
Khabib is been impossible to deal with once he gets a hold of you. He has ragdolled some elite grapplers in the cage like they were white belts. No one has ever just smooshed Dos Anjos like the way he did it. In his last fight against Michael Johnson just over a year ago he was dropped hard in the first round (granted came back like an animal), so he has opening closing the gap.
If Barboza can deter Khabib on the feet with some good power shots and dictate the range/pace of the fights, this is his to win. While I love Barboza’s kicking game, that can be a detriment to him in this fight.
Prediction: Khabib by decision
Jimmie Rivera vs. John Lineker
Jimmie might very well be the future champ, so it saddens my soul he isn’t getting more attention.
Win or lose, Lineker is a blast to watch. He throws heat with every strike he throws. Always moves forward with tons of pressure to overwhelm his opponent. This 9/10 leads to a slugfest that John walks away from. He has a rough start in his career but figures things out prior to getting the call from the UFC. Now he only has a difficult time with grapplers and elite strikers.
Jimmie, on the other hand, is solid everywhere the fight goes and implements a very smart strategy to beat his opponents. UFC didn’t give Rivera any easy fights with Jonnie winning them all.
I see this fight more about how high Lineker’s ceiling is that if Rivera is good enough to win this fight. Rivera has all the tools to move around, rack up points and score some well timed takedowns. Every time I think that about Lineker, he has proved me wrong though.
Prediction: Jimmie Rivera by decision
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla “the Cookie Monster” Esparza
The undefeated Cynthia is taking a big step up against the first strawweight champ. She is of Mexican heritage so the UFC is giving her a decent marketing push. Hopefully, Calvillo is healthy and makes weight for this fight.
Carla won the Ultimate Fighter to become the first strawweight champ. Her wrestling-heavy style allowed her to wet blanket other chicks. Her striking never developed into a threat so if she can’t get the fight to the grown it a tough night for her. The scariest part of watching Carla strike is how much she flinches when someone is throwing punches at her.
Cynthia is a sick grappler with better striking than Carla. She should be able to dictate where the fight takes place but a close call.
Prediction: Cynthia by split decision
Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
After a year and half, Carlos Condit is returning to the octagon. It is so tough to get a read on where Carlos is right now in his MMA career. He is 33 years old and 2-5 in his last 7 fights against the division’s elite fighters. With injuries preventing him from getting back in the cage, it is easy to say he is on the downside of his career.
This fight is to determine the bottom half of the top 10 for the division. Neil had a crazy run after a little tuning up after his stint on TUF with 7 straight wins. That established him as a top 10 welterweight, he keeps losing to top 5 opponents.
Stylistically, this is an interesting fight. Condit is the creative outside fighter with a slick guard. Neil is a pressure fighter, with really good wrestling/top game and a super LONG outside point fighter. Condit has always had troubles with wrestlers in the past so expect the wrestling to be a deciding factor in a decision. I will not be surprised to see Carlos lose the first round or two with hopes that he warms up and finds an opening to end the show late in the fight.
Prediction: Condit by TKO in the third