It’s been a rocky road to UFC 219 AKA how we got to Cyborg vs. Holm.
We lost Dominick Cruz back in November and then misfortunes cruel desires struck a few days ago as we lost John Lineker . Yet it’s best to not be too pessimistic as Saturday promises the return of what the Russians are calling #KhabibTime & the MMA gods have seemingly blessed us with a Carlos Condit comeback fight. There’s also the proposition that Khalil Rountree vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk will be the slug festival of the night, and how could we forget the main event; a stylistic dream between two of the greatest female fighters to walk God’s green earth. UFC 219 has all the traits of a classic card.
Cyborg vs. Holm
Many casual fans know Holm as the girl that clobbered Ronda Rousey back at UFC 193. It’s this ‘Dethroner of champions’ vibe that the UFC attempted to promote for the fight against Cyborg. Albeit Holm did dethrone Rousey but ever since it’s been a downward slide for Holly, she lost her belt at UFC 196 to Miesha Tate; it was an extremely tense and close fight,both fighters had their moments throughout and Holm almost choked Tate out at one point. Most expected that Holly would quickly bounce back from the loss but she didn’t.
That July she lost again, this time to Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko who is really a natural flyweight, has a similar style to Holm, she likes to bait her opponents forward then cuts angles and lands strikes from counters. Holm lost the fight via a unanimous decision but worst of all she was beaten at her own game of cunning counter striking. After a two fight skid the UFC decided to grant Holm a shot at inaugural womens featherweight belt, her opponent would be Germaine De Randamie; a kicking specialist from Holland, The fight was scheduled for February of 2017 in Brooklyn NYC.
The women’s featherweight division was created with the intention that Cris Cyborg would rule it. Instead of fighting for the belt, she spent early 2017 trying to prove her innocence due to a ‘Doping Violation’ made in December of 2016. So as Cyborg was held up by the US anti doping agency it was up to Holm and De Randamie to decide who would be next to face Cyborg.
In typical MMA fashion nothing went to plan, Holm lost the fight in an extremely controversial manner, De Randamie landed a few highly significant shots after the bell which may have altered the result. The effects were amplified even worse as referee Todd Anderson refused to take a point. This left a sour taste in the mouths of MMA fans who believed that Holly had actually won the fight. Things turned even more volatile in the post-fight interview when De Randamie said that she didn’t want to fight Cyborg as her hand hurt. The events of that fight left a shadowy cloud over what should have been a legitimate victory for De Randamie and also people now had very little interest in a De Randamie VS. Cyborg fight. Worst of all it made UFC 208 seem like a boring card.
As time passed things got even more messed up, we had a new UFC champion in Germaine De Randamie but she immediately disappeared and refused to do any media. The fans didn’t know whether she would ever fight again. Yet after four months of nothing but radio silence she released a statement on-line stating that she wouldn’t fight Cris Cyborg as she believed her to be a cheater who used Performance enhancing drugs. The UFC responded as you’d imagine how they’d react and on the 19th of June she was stripped of her featherweight title. Some view Germaine as a ‘coward’ who was afraid to take on the 12 years unbeaten Cyborg and as others view her as a martyr who was willing to die for the cause of ridding the sport of Performance enhancing drugs. Regardless of how you view Germaine De Randamie’s actions, it was seemingly guaranteed that order would be restored to the featherweight division.
The UFC booked Cris Cyborg VS. Megan Anderson for UFC 214 in Anaheim. Anderson was (8-2) and the current Invicta Featherweight champion. Fans worldwide rejoiced at the matchup. UFC 214 was viewed as a restoration card; light-heavyweight Jon Jones was offered a chance at restoring his legacy against bitter rival Daniel Cormier and Cyborg & Anderson could finally set the Featherweight ball rolling. Again the MMA curse struck, Megan Anderson pulled out of the fight on June 27th citing Personal Reasons. It was up to Tonya Evinger to take on the seemingly unbeatable Cris Cyborg. Thankfully the fight took place and Cyborg dominated the veteran Evinger and ended the fight in the 3rd round via TKO from Knee strikes.
As for Holm, she returned to her natural weight (Bantamweight) to take on fellow contender Bethe Correia . Holm badly needed to win in spectacular fashion as the cards were stacked against her, people were starting to doubt her legacy as she’d lost three straight fights after the Rousey win. In typical Holm underdog fashion she utilized her footwork and superior kick-boxing to KO Bethe Correia in the 3rd round via head kick. She needed a dominant performance and she had one; the KO was one of the highlight moments of 2017 and it secured Holm’s name back on the MMA radar.
It was this Holm head-kick that was used to best Ronda Rousey and it secured her title shot at UFC 219. It’s also a supersonic weapon that many analysts believe she’ll employ against Cyborg, Cyborg has a bull-dog like aggression, she likes to hang inside the pocket and pressure opponents against the cage; it’s here where she can showcase her power and tee off on opponents. She did this against Lina Landsberg as seen below. But Holm has a calmer presence and she won’t want to stay here. She’ll likely try and keep her distance and circle away from Cyborgs power hand. It’s here where Holly can land the Head-Kick.
Holly Holm was never supposed to beat Ronda Rousey, she was never supposed to get beat by Valentina Shevchenko and she was expected to beat Germaine De Randamie and become the first ever women’s Featherweight champion. She has a fantastic ability to do the contrary of what’s expected of her. I’m no MMA expert or professional analyst. All I can say is that Cyborg is a -325 favorite and Holly isn’t expected to win. But would she have it any other way?