Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., Dec. 30, 2017) for UFC 219, which took place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the main event of the evening, Cris Cyborg defeated Holly Holm after five intense rounds to hold on to her women's Featherweight title in a highly-entertaining title fight (see it again here). In the co-main event, Khaib Nurmagomedov smothered Edson Barboza for five rounds to stake his claim as the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division (highlights).
Winner: Cris Cyborg
Who She Should Fight Next: Megan Anderson
Cris and Anderson were all set to throw down this past summer at UFC 214 before personal issues forced the Invicta FC Featherweight champion out of the title fight. Megan’s hasn’t competed since then, so it only makes sense to have Cris’s next title defense come against her. I mean, it’s not like the 145-pound weight class is filled with contenders at the moment. The bout will without a doubt pit the two best female 145-pound fighters in the world, so at the end of the day it’s a no-brainer.
Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Who He Should Fight Next: Tony Ferguson
Conor McGregor is not walking through that door. At least not until next summer. Then again, I still wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening, as “Notorious” can and will do whatever he wants, so if he chooses to extended his hiatus even more, Ferguson’s best option is to face Khabib in an interim title fight. It’s probably not the sexy fight “El Cucuy” wants, but if he wants to get paid, taking on “The Eagle” is his best bet. And who knows, should Conor decided to not return when Dana White predicted, then the promotion could very well strip him of the strap — which they should done a long time ago — and crown Ferguson the real champion, making Khabib vs Ferguson for the real strap.
Winner: Dan Hooker
Who He Should Fight Next: James Vick
Hooker looked impressive in his third-round submission win over Marc Diakiese, and he is on the verge of breaking into the top 15. Before he gets there, he will need to acquire one or two more impressive wins. That’s why I’d like to see him face off against No. 15 ranked James Vick. James has been on a roll as of late, too, winning three in a row including his most previous win against Joseph Duffy at UFC 217. It may be hard to convince Vick to take the fight, as he will likely want a ranked for next, but I really like this fight.
Winner: Carla Esparza
Who She Should Fight Next: Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Calvillo is without a doubt the real deal. But after suffering a loss to former women’s Strawweight champion Carla Esparza, the Team Alpha Male-trained fighter is forced to start from scratch. For Esparza, though, the win is a huge step in her march to reclaiming her title. Up next for “Cookie Monster” should be a fight against former title contender Karoline Kowalkiewicz. Karolina got back on the winning track after dropping two straight by taking out Jodie Esquibel in her previous outing. A matchup between these two ladies will clear up the title picture, though they victor will likely have to wait a bit for a championship fight, as Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres are set to tango in a few months in a bout that will produce the next title contender. After Joanna Jedrzejczyk, of course.
Winner: Neil Magny
Who He Should Fight Next: Jorge Masvidal
Magny got back on the winning track by absolutely dominating former interim 170-pound champion Carlos Condit. Up next, I’d love to see Neil face off against “Gamebred.” Masvidal came up short in his previous two bouts, I get it, but the fight still makes sense rankings wise. Jorge is six spots ahead of Condit, so Neil getting a win over Masvidal will surely put him into the top 10 in a very crowded division. Plus, both men like to stand-and-bang, so the fight will be an all-out brawl and treat for fans.
To get full UFC 219: “Cyborg vs Holm” play-by-play updates and results click here.