Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., Dec. 30, 2017) for UFC 219: “Cyborg vs Holm” from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a women’s Featherweight title fight between division champion Cris Cyborg and former Bantamweight roost-ruler, Holly Holm.
Throughout her mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Cris Cyborg has made it look easy, running over one foe after another with relative ease. And it’s not like she was fighting pushovers, but she made it look that way. Tonight, though, Cyborg will be facing perhaps the toughest test of her career, going toe-to-toe against a former UFC women’s Bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who also has an unmatched boxing pedigree, too. Indeed, it will be power vs. precision, brute strength vs. finesse when these two ladies collide in the center of the Octagon.
In the PPV co-main event of the evening, Khabib Nurmagomedov will return to action after an extended leave because of health and weight issues to try and reclaim his spot as the top contender for the Lightweight title. Standing in his way is Edson Barboza, who is one of the most devastating strikers in all the division, if not the sport, who is bent on staking his won claim in the division. The winner could very well set themselves up for a shot at the strap, which is currently being held hostage by Conor McGregor. At the very least, they could find themselves standing across the cage from interim champion Tony Ferguson.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
The card has undergone some major changes, including losing a 135-pound showdown between former champion Dominick Cruz and Jimmie Rivera. Rivera was then booked to face off against John Lineker, but that bout was was also lost after “Hands of Stone” came down with a bad tooth infection.
Emil Meek was scheduled to face Kamaru Usman at the event, but was moved to a later card after Meek encountered some visa issues.
Aside from Cruz and Lineker, Gokhan Saki also came down with an injury that forced him out of his bout against Khalil Rountree.
Michał Oleksiejczuk will make his UFC debut when he steps in for Saki to face Rountree. Oleksiejczuk has won nine in a row, which was good enough to earn a call up to the big show on short notice. Also, Mark Delarosa will make his Octagon debut after tearing it up on the regional circuit, including winning two straight fights under the Combate Americas banner. His first test will come against former title contender, Tim Elliott, in the opening undercard bout of the evening, which is the sole fight on Fight Pass.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The preliminary portion of the event will be headlined by a Light Heavyweight scrap that will see Rountree welcome Oleksiejczuk into the eight-sided cage. He is no Gokhan Saki, by Michal likes to stand-and-bang, so it should make for an interesting scrap. Also, Myles Jury will face off against Rick Glenn in a battle of Featherweights. Jury recently got back on the winning track at UFC 210 after dropping two in a row. As for Glenn, he’s been on a roll, winning two straight. Just one year ago, Elliott was fighting in the main event against Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, and now he’s been relegated to the very bottom of the undercard. Still, it doesn’t make him any less talented and he has the task of welcoming Mark Delarosa, who has yet to taste defeat in his MMA career.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Louis Smolka needs a win in the worst way, as he has dropped three straight after winning give of his first six fights inside the Octagon. Should he drop his fourth in a row, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the promotion hand him his pink slip. But, he can prolong his UFC career if he can get through Matheus Nicolau, who has won five in a row.
Interest Level: 7/10
Despite losing a couple of key bouts, the card is still rather intriguing. We get to see whether or not Holm can weather Cyborg’s early storm and pick her apart systematically on the feet, or if the ferocious Brazilian can bulldoze right over “The Preacher’s Daughter” to stake her claim as the greatest female MMA fighter of all time. For Holm, defeating Cyborg will not only be the biggest feather in her cap — even bigger than this one — but it will mean she can become UFC’s first-ever woman to win two different division titles.
In addition, the Lightweight title picture can be a bit clearer once Khabib and Edson do the dance. And let’s not forget that Carlos Condit will make his own long-awaited return to action after putting his retirement plans on ice to face Neil Magny in an intriguing Welterweight scrap. Condit has long been one of the more entertaining fighters in the sport, so it will be interesting to see if he can return to “The Natural Born Killer” of old. Also, Cynthia Calvillo looks to keep her momentum going when she squares up against former women’s Strawweight champion Carla Esparza. It will be Cynthia’s toughest test to date, but a win should catapult her to the top of the rankings. For Carla, stopping Calvillo will be a huge feather in her cap and will be a big step on her road to reclaiming the strap.
Have a safe and happy new year, Maniacs!
Full UFC 219 Fight Card:
UFC 219 PPV Main Event:
145 lbs.: UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm
UFC 219 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker
115 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
170 lbs.: Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
UFC 219 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree
145 lbs.: Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
155 lbs.: Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori
125 lbs.: Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
UFC 219 Prelims on Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Mark Delarosa vs. Tim Elliott
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