Before we say goodbye to 2017, the UFC has graced us with yet another amazing New Year’s card. Headlining the event is two of the very best women in mixed martial arts history, as UFC Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg makes her first title defense against former Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm. The consensus pound for pound queen Cyborg, enters this contest on a 18-fight unbeaten streak dating back to 2005. Her only professional defeat came in her very first fight. As for Holm, ever since shocking Ronda Rousey back in 2015, it’s been nothing but rough sea’s. A mental error in the 5th round against Miesha Tate saw her title change hands, a hesitancy to strike cost her a fight against Shevchenko and questionable officiating and judges cost Holm the right to be the inaugural UFC Featherweight Champion. Despite the losing streak, Holm returned against former Bantamweight title challenger Bethe Correia, viciously knocking her out via her patented head-kick.
Anyways, this is going to be a hell of a main event and card in general. Without further ado, the Predictions!
UFC 219 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm – Holy Cow! This is perhaps the best fight in Women’s mixed martial arts history. In one corner, you’ve got the pound for pound queen, who hasn’t been defeated in over eleven years. In the other corner, you have the former Women’s Bantamweight Champion who dethroned at the time the pound for pound best Ronda Rousey.
Instead of going into a long and boring breakdown, I’m just going to be brief here. If Cyborg comes out patient, picks her shots and paces herself, then she should have no issues defeating Holm. However, if Cyborg comes out aggressive and head hunting, I believe Holm’s counter punching will result in several knock downs. For some reason, I feel like Cyborg has shown vulnerabilities in her last fight that Holm will capitalize on. I also believe that Holm know’s what’s at stake. She can be the first female to be a multiple weight-class Champion. She would also undoubtedly would be considered the greatest female mixed martial artist ever. That’s crazy for someone who transitioned from Boxing to mixed martial arts in 2011.
So with that, I got Holm via decision.
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov – Make no mistake about it, this is a dangerous fight for both men. Barboza is one of the very best strikers in the UFC. He features heavy leg kicks that have resulted in several stoppages. His footwork and movement are phenomenal to boot. However, those who applied constant pressure were able to break him. Considering Nurmagomedov is a pressure fighter and is supremely focused on getting inside and grappling, it could be a long night for Barboza. However, if Barboza can shrug off any grappling attempts by Nurmagomedov and keep distance, it’s definitely feasible to see Nurmagomedov get picked apart and finished on the feet.
As for what I think, it’s hard not to pick Nurmagomedov. He’s undefeated and his grappling abilities have yet to be stopped. Barboza probably has been working heavily on his takedown defense, but it won’t matter. Nurmagomedov’s strength is on another planet and he’s going to eventually catch and out muscle Barboza to ground. Given that he wants a title shot, I see him going hard for a finish and getting it. So with that, I have Nurmagomedov via submission.
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker – Despite Diakiese losing a close fight that saw his leg get battered and his back on the mat several times, he’s still got a bright future. In terms of style, this fight is more in Diakiese’s realm, as Hooker is a pure striker. While Hooker’s a solid striker, the amount of punishment he takes is troublesome. And despite thus far never getting stopped in the UFC, well, their’s a first for everything. Diakiese is too flashy on the feet and I believe he will eventually catch Hooker with something that puts him away.
115 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – While I can see Esparza using a heavy dose of takedowns and top control to attempt to smother Calvillo, at the same time I could see Calvillo fighting well off her back. Calvillo’s guard features various slick submissions, enough to second guess being on the ground with her. While Esparza has good submission defense, I fear her inactivity while in top control because she’s constantly fighting off submission attempts could sway the judges. In fact, that’s what I predict is going to go down. So with that, I have Calvillo via decision.
170 lbs.: Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – When Condit announced he was stepping away from the sport, it just felt weird not seeing “The Natural Born Killer” in the octagon. However, after over a year off, it seems Condit got the itch to return. His opponent is in the form of perennial top fifteen Welterweight Neil Magny. The “Gazelle” is coming off a quick submission defeat to Rafael Dos Anjos. A fight that he would love to forget, but then again, he’s got another opportunity to right the ship and add a big time name to the ole resume. As for a prediction, I’m siding with Condit. Despite his defensive wrestling woes, on the feet Magny won’t be able to match the power Condit throws. As the fight wanes, Magny won’t necessarily fade, but Condit’s uptick in striking volume will put Magny down. So with that, I have Condit via third-round knockout.
UFC 219 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree – Both men enter this contest with a 67% knockout percentage and of recent, the knockouts have been plentiful. As for my prediction, I have Roundtree. His last two fights have resulted in vicious knockout victories and he’s slowly building momentum in a shallow Light Heavyweight division. I envision Roundtree being calculated, but throwing haymaker’s when necessary. With the amount of power Roundtree generates, when he lands one of those haymaker’s, it’s night night for Oleksiejczuk. So with that, I’ve got Roundtree via knockout.
145 lbs.: Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury – Glenn really impressed me against Gavin Tucker, as he completely dominated him. However, Glenn did have a 3 inch height and a whopping 4.5 inch reach advantage over Tucker. The advantages clearly showed too, as Tucker was completely on the feet and forced his way inside only to get cracked. On the other hand, Jury is comparable in height and reach with Glenn and I expect the former Lightweight prospect to continue his rebuild at Featherweight. It won’t be easy though, as Glenn is practically a zombie. In other words he’s very durable and I don’t see Jury putting him away, just outpointing him everywhere this fight goes to earn the decision nod.
155 lbs.: Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori – You have to give credit to Akhmedov for pulling off the upset over Abdul Razak Alhassan. It was almost prematurely believed that he would get knocked out in the first round. Instead, he used a heavy dose of takedowns to edge out the knockout artist Razak Alhassan. Unfortunately, I don’t think that strategy is going to work against Vettori. The Italian has good enough takedown defense to keep this one on the feet, in which he will show off his quick hand speed. When Akhmedov fades in the third round, Vettori will put him away via knockout.
125 lbs.: Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka – There’s a lot of hype surrounding the young flyweight prospect Nicolau, especially after his UFC debut victory over John Moraga. However, Nicolau’s momentum was halted from a USADA violation that’s shelved him for over a year. As for Smolka, the once potential title challenger is on a dreadful three-fight losing streak. It doesn’t get any easier here either. As for a prediction though, with Nicolau’s inactivity and Smolka potentially facing walking papers, it’s a tough call. However I’ll side with Smolka by decision, as I believe his pace should carry him over a rusty Nicolau.
UFC 219 Prelims on Fight Pass (7:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Mark De La Rosa vs. Tim Elliott – Don’t know much about De La Rosa other than he’s undefeated. Unfortunately, this is a tough debut. Elliott is one the best Flyweights in the world, who could be better if he shored up mental mistakes that have dearly cost him. Anyways, Elliott controls this fight wherever and earns the nod via decision.