One of the biggest events on the UFC calendar, UFC 219 will be headlined by featherweight champion Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino defending her title against Holly ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ Holm. In the running to this mega-fight, some other great fights are set to entertain the crowd on December 30 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.

Jimmie Rivera takes on John Lineker in the bantamweight division; the UFC pitch their new favourite Cynthia Calvillo against the first-ever UFC strawweight champion in Carla Esparza; welterweight Carlos Condit returns to the octagon to clash with Neil Magny; and the 24-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov will take on Edson Barboza in a lightweight scrap to mark the Russian’s return from a lengthy absence.

It’s a great card to get excited about, but as is often the case, the headline bout deserves all of the headlines. Given the UFC’s sordid past with both fighters, which centered on the promotion’s love of former champion Ronda Rousey, they’re both out to prove themselves to be invaluable to the UFC.

Holly Holm here to complete a comeback

It has been a tough road for former boxing champion Holly Holm. She rose to fame by annihilating the formerly considered undefeatable Ronda Rousey in a headline bout that was deemed to be the Fight and Performance of the Night at UFC 193, via a superbly timed kick to the head and follow up punches while the champion laid on the canvas.

After that, however, she fell to Miesha Tate in the first defense of her title. On the card of the McGregor versus Diaz-headlined UFC 196, Tate and Holm engaged in a thrilling battle until the fifth round, when a rear-naked choke got the best of the defending champion. Holm went on to lose two more matchups on the bounce, losing by decision to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie.

Most recently, however, Holm turned her recent poor form around by defeating Bethe Correia at a UFC fight Night via the same method used to defeat Ronda Rousey two years ago. With the skid ended and Holm on steady footing once more, she’s lined up to take on the woman deemed to be the most dangerous in the world by many.

Cyborg doesn’t mess around

Cristiane Justino, or ‘Cris Cyborg’ as she’s commonly known, is on a colossal 18-fight win-streak. With only one loss on her record, which came in her professional debut in 2005, Cyborg has gone on to win 16 of her ensuing 18 fights by knockout, with her last decision win coming way back in 2008.

The Brazilian mixed martial arts superstar has only engaged in three UFC fights since joining in 2016, but all of Leslie Smith, Lina Lansberg, and Tonya Evinger have found themselves ended within the rounds. A terrifying opponent, Cyborg has built her career on being hard to hurt and ferocious up close. Now she takes on a notorious giant slayer in her biggest fight with the promotion yet.

Something to prove

219

Source: UFC Fresno, via Twitter

On paper, Cristiane Justino looks to be the clear favorite, as shown by her odds of -333.33 to win on December 30. However, given that Holm has recovered from a series of losses and appears to have the same fight in her that she did as the underdog against Ronda Rousey, it’d be worth a flutter when she’s at odds of +225.

Both come into the fight having had spats with the UFC. The UFC has favorites, and when they pave the way for those favorites to reach the pinnacle of the sport and stay there – thus become more marketable – but someone throws a wrench into their plans, the UFC tends to give them a rough time. This was the case with these two fighters while the UFC was attempting to promote Ronda Rousey.

Cyborg once detailed that the UFC had made Rousey their star girl because she was blonde and American, as opposed to herself; the better fighter, but Brazilian. This resulted in a slow ascendency for the already-established top-class fighter. Holm upsetting Rousey had repercussions when she lost her belt and wanted a deserved rematch against Tate, but Tate was instead given a defense against Amanda Nunes.

In any case, this is a huge fight for both featherweights, who can finally claim the high standing in the UFC that they’ve long deserved. With Holm’s long history of professional boxing under her belt, Cristiane Justino has recruited the services of the most dominant boxer in the world right now, Cecilia Braekhus. Currently holding the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC, and WBO world title belts in the welterweight division, she will certainly be able to give Cyborg some teachable moments in sparring.

Holm will likely try to stay at range, using her lauded history in professional boxing and kickboxing to outland the champion, while ducking and pivoting to avoid any counters. Cyborg, on the other hand, will rush to the inside and release flurries of devastating combinations. While Holm is an excellent counter-puncher, Cyborg will punish her every time the Brazilian is allowed to get a bit too close.

 

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