UFC 219 tips: Best bets for Cyborg v Holm
We make our pick for the featherweight title fight in Las Vegas, plus the best of the action from the undercard.
Cris Cyborg v Holly Holm
Saturday night’s featherweight title fight is all about whether Holm can avoid Cyborg’s power and pick the Brazilian apart on the counter.
Holm is one of the few fighters in the UFC who can match up physically with the champion. She’ll actually have a one-inch reach advantage on Saturday, and her knack for controlling the distance and fighting on the back foot gives her at least a slim chance of victory.
But Cyborg hasn’t lost a fight since her professional debut in 2005, and she’s ripped through her three UFC fights to date with three TKO wins.
Holm will be her biggest test to date, although the American had lost three successive fights before knocking out Bethe Correia in June.
Her fighting nous and excellent chin should see her through early on, but Cyborg’s relentless pressure should eventually tell, and the 32-year-old’s proficiency on the mat could prove a key advantage.
The champion is worth backing to take Holm out for her eighth successive stoppage win.
Khabib Nurmagomedov v Edson Barboza
Barboza will probably need a one-shot knockout to stop the relentless Nurmagomedov.
The undefeated Russian is a seemingly unstoppable wrestler who set a UFC record with 21 takedowns in a single fight against Abel Truijo in May 2013, and once he gets his opponents to the ground he’s extremely hard to shake off.
He dominated Michael Johnson – a fine striker – in a submission win at UFC 205 a year ago, and also beat former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in April 2014.
Barboza is one of the lightweight division’s most dangerous fighters on the feet, and he landed a flying knee to KO Beneil Dariush in his last fight.
The Brazilian is susceptible to submissions, though, having tapped out in two of his last three defeats, and will be in massive danger once Nurmagomedov drags him to the mat.
Cynthia Calvillo v Carla Esparza
Having won all six of her professional fights and climbed to sixth in the strawweight rankings, Calvillo could potentially set up a title shot with a win over former champion Esparza.
The Team Alpha Male fighter is a dangerous scrambler with two submissions from three in the UFC, and she’s also a capable striker.
Esparza’s a really solid grappler, but she has lost twice in her four fights since she won the belt back in December 2014.
Calvillo should extend her unbeaten run to seven, but the 30-year-old lacks the power in her strikes to take Esparza out inside the distance.
Carlos Condit v Neil Magny
Saturday night will tell us whether Condit’s time as one of the UFC’s best strikers is over.
The 33-year-old has lost five of his last seven fights, the last of which ended in a first-round submission defeat by Demian Maia.
Condit hasn’t fought in 16 months, and rust has to be a concern against Magny – a big, strong welterweight and excellent wrestler.
The 30-year-old lost his last fight against Rafael dos Anjos but had won four of five prior to that.
Condit is at his best when he fights aggressively, but the American’s age and lack of recent activity makes it hard to back him maintaining pace throughout the bout.
A decision for Magny – who should come on strong as the fight goes on – is a solid bet.