It’s been a while people, finals week is done and the end of year is here once again, it’s time for a Breakdown and Preview of UFC 219.
(C) Cris Cyborg vs. (# 2 BW) Holly Holm
Let me start off by saying, when the UFC introduces a new weight for Women’s MMA such as in the Flyweight Division, but doesn’t have more than five or six fighters in the “featherweight” division, there’s some cause for alarm. The positive spin I can give from this is that, Cyborg is one of the very best fighter’s in woman’s MMA history and the UFC wouldn’t and can’t market her right. The same could be said about Holly Holm, granted it didn’t help after her first title defense she lost the belt to Miesha Tate, she had her cup of coffee as the champion and then a three fight losing streak. Now, that’s out of the way, this is an intriguing matchup stand up wise. One hand, Cyborg has some of the best Muay Thai clinch work in MMA, on the other Holly Holm is no slouch in the standup department, her boxing footwork and constant pressure is something that Cyborg is not used to. Holly should be looking at this fight as a do or die fight, this is her third title opportunity and she fell short on the first go around against GDR. She’s gonna have to look for a submission or TKO, she should not leave this up to the judges at all. She will also have to cut the cage off and use the distance for her boxing and footwork. Cyborg has been training with Cecilia Braekhus to learn Holm’s style and to get an idea of how she mix’s her boxing with kickboxing. I believe this will be a good test for Cyborg, even with the lack of competition in the “featherweight” Division, ultimately if Holm loses this fight she should either retire or understand she’s going to become a gatekeeper in two women’s division.
Verdict: Cris Cyborg via (TKO) 2nd Round
(#2) Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. (#3) Edison Barboza
This year, has been tremendous for the Lightweight Division without a single title defense from Conor McGregor. Nurmagomedov has been pretty vocal about wanting the title opportunity with McGregor or Ferguson, the problem is that he has to show us he can actually make the fight and show up to fight. Khabib is going to look at his grappling to cut the cage off and pressure the striker in Barboza, the problem is that Edison is a very good counterpuncher and has very good takedown defense. The best thing that Barboza has in his bag of tricks isn’t just his striking, the fact that he reads fighters into making mistakes for him to execute. His last fight with Beneil Dariush is a perfect example, when Dariush would go in for a shot, Barboza would stuff the shot and then bait him with a knee; he ended up, KO’ing Dariush with a knee to the face in the 2nd Round. Khabib’s weight cut and grappling are going to be the key in this fight, if he does a logical weight cut (by that I mean if he is at a lower weight than normal weigh in’s) and uses his grappling to his advantage, Barboza is going on a airkhabib plane ride.
Verdict: (#2) Khabib Nurmagomedov via 2nd Round (TKO)
(#4) Jimmie Rivera vs. (#6) John Lineker (Cancelled)
Originally Dominick Cruz was booked to fight Rivera but pulled out due to an injury. It’s not looking good, for Rivera to be rebooked but I would like to Breakdown the fight quickly. Rivera has a great chin, he likes to pick and choose his spots where he likes to throw his over hand right and constant footwork with his jab. The thing he would have to do with against Lineker is out grapple him and make sure to not stand with him. Lineker has a granite chin, that can probably with stand a hammer being hit with, his left hand is very dangerous at any angle he throws it. I hope these two will be rebooked maybe at 220 or 221.
(#6) Cynthia Calvillo vs. (#9) Carla Esparza
Great matchup for the Women’s Strawweight Division after now Rose Namajunas has become the new queen of the division. With Tecia Torres rumored to be the the challenger for the belt, I expect the winner of this fight, to fight the Andradre vs Kowalkiewicz. The rising star of Calvillo is really something to be hold, she is young, was a rising prospect to now soon contender, and she can cut a promo. The big thing I see is her willingness to fight with anyone either with her grappling or trading strikes with someone who is known for her striking. Her last fight with JoJo Calderwood is the example, she can stand with you and then once uses the cage to her advantage, she’s going to either grind you for the takedown or she’s going to smother you for the submission. Her opponent Carla Esparza is a former strawweight champion and decorated grappling with her wrestling accomplishments. However, the one thing I think that will have Calvillo beat Esparza is her mentality to be a champion. Carla has been on record saying that she was “mentally” fatigued from the press and her obligations as a champion. Calvillo has stated that she wants to be a two division champion and wants to be something in MMA. That’s where I feel the match will be the biggest advantage. Carla has improved her striking and cardio, but if she isn’t mentally prepared, she should probably hang up the gloves or go to Bellator.
Verdict: Cynthia Calvillo via (Submission) 2nd Round
(#7) Carlos Condit vs. (#8) Neil Magny
Very interesting matchup for the returning Carlos Condit, he faces Neil Magny that needs a win to get back into title contendership. I believe, these two are gatekeepers of the thriving Welterweight Division and goes without saying that Condit was considering retirement but went against the notion. He’s a two fight loosing skid and hasn’t fought since loosing to Damien Maia last year. I understand that if Condit wants to end his career on a high note with a win or if he is pushing for one more title opportunity. Neil Magny recently lost to former Lightweight Champion Rafeal Dos Anjos, his ceiling on what can do in this division I believe has been reached, every time he’s had a big opportunity to earn a bigger fight or even have a closer time to earn his title shot, he’s lost. I’m not even using RDA as the example but he lost to Lorenz Larkin who’s on his own two fight skid in Bellator who should be in the UFC. What I expect from Magny is to use his grappling against Condit and not fight his fight. If he trades with Carlos, this fight won’t last long, but the bigger question is, which Carlos Condit are we going to see.
Verdict : Carlos Condit via (TKO) 2nd Round