It all goes down later tonight (Sat., Dec. 30, 2017) at UFC 219 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Cris Cyborg puts her women’s featherweight title on the line for the first time against former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
This is undoubtedly the biggest test in the career of both fighters. Cyborg has managed to carve out a reign of dominance at 145 pounds over the past decade, but she has really never faced a complete striker like “Preacher’s Daughter.” Holm, on the other hand, has never encountered an offensive aggressor quite like Cyborg.
In order to prepare ourselves for the looming madness, lets take a deeper look at the keys to victory for both Cyborg and Holm this evening in Las Vegas.
1. Pressure early...
While Cyborg has shown some subtle improvements in her ability to control her aggression inside of the cage and pace her early output, the Brazilian champ should look to open up a can of whoop ass as soon as possible against Holm.
Holm is one of the smartest strikers in women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) today and she’s usually at her best when she has enough time to gauge distance, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and move into position for the kill. In order to limit the time Holm has to sink her toes into the canvas Cyborg must attack early and pressure the former 135-pound champion quickly.
If she can do this then Holm may never find her sweet spot at UFC 219.
2. Change levels off the counter...
It’s not secret that Cyborg is going to be the aggressor tonight against “Preacher’s Daughter.” Holm is notoriously a counter striker who uses her opponent’s mistakes to score points and take control of a fight.
While Cyborg is more than likely going to have to act first for this title fight to offer any sort of action, that doesn’t mean she can’t use Holm’s countering attacks to her own advantage. As long as Cyborg is able to time the exchanges properly, she should be able to change levels, get inside, attack the body, and maybe even score a takedown or two off of Holm’s counters.
After all, Cyborg hinted at possibly utilizing her ground game at UFC 219.
1. Counter, counter, counter...
If Holm isn’t aiming to counter strike Cyborg later tonight at UFC 219 then she really isn’t giving herself the best chance to win. It’s that simple.
But just because Holm will be looking to score a certain way on her feet doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how the fight is going to play out. Instead, the former UFC champion must play the angles inside, lull Cyborg into a sense of confidence, and respond with a variety of combinations, preferably ones that end with a head kick.
Once Holm is able to dictate the exchanges and make Cyborg pay for her own offensive advancements then maybe she’ll be able to open up her attacks and begin to land first.
2. Escape and evade...
Whether or not Holm counters on queue, she’s going to have to do her absolute best to quickly escape the pocket, utilize her speed to parry, and evade any offensive explosions that could corner her against the cage.
Cyborg is a monster when she’s able to cut off angles and move in for multiple attacks. Most opponents crumble under the pressure, are forced to cover up, and allow Cyborg to tee off at will. Holm must nip this in the bud and remain mobile and elusive inside of the cage.
Forcing Cyborg to track her down may also help drain the Brazilian’s energy in the later rounds.
Prediction: Cyborg via unanimous decision
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 219 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.