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411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm

December 30, 2017 | Posted by Dan Plunkett
UFC 219 Cyborg Justino Holly Holm

Cris Cyborg faces the toughest test of her career when she defends her featherweight title in the main event of UFC 219! In the co-main event, the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov fights Edson Barboza in a clash of top lightweight contenders. Also at lightweight, Dan Hooker faces Marc Diakiese. Plus, Cynthia Calvillo looks to extend her unbeaten streak to seven against former strawweight champion Carla Esparza, Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny, and more!


  • He’s 411’s Jack of All Trades, Jeffrey Harris!
  • He’ll lock you in the guillotine, Robert Winfree!
  • And your host for this roundtable, Dan Plunkett!

    First prelim on UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
    Bantamweight Bout: Tim Elliott vs. Mark De La Rosa

    Jeffrey Harris: Tim Elliott, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Tim Elliott, Submission, Round 3
    Dan Plunkett: Elliott, Decision
    The staff picks Tim Elliott, 3-0.

    Flyweight Bout: Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau

    Jeffrey Harris: Louis Smolka, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Louis Smolka, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Nicolau, Decision
    The staff picks Louis Smolka, 2-1.

    Middleweight Bout: Marvin Vettori vs. Omari Akhmedov

    Jeffrey Harris: Omari Akhmedov, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Omari Akhmedov, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Akhmedov, Decision
    The staff picks Omari Akhmedov, 3-0.

    Featherweight Bout: Myles Jury vs. Rick Glenn

    Jeffrey Harris: Myles Jury, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Rick Glenn, Decision
    Dan Plunkett: Jury, Decision
    The staff picks Myles Jury, 2-1.

    Light Heavyweight Bout: Khalil Rountree vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

    Jeffrey Harris: Khalil Rountree, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Khalil Rountree, TKO, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Rountree, KO, Round 1
    The staff picks Khalil Rountree, 3-0.

    Welterweight Bout: Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny

    Jeffrey Harris: I’m going all in for Neil Magny here. Carlos Condit seemed like he was almost ready to retire after losing his bid for the UFC title against Robbie Lawler. Then he came back and got submitted by Demian Maia. It’s hard to see where his head is at here, and if he’s ready to make another run of things. Condit’s a world-class, elite striker. He was one of the most dangerous strikers in the division. However, his takedown defense has always been awful, and I see that giving Magny a considerable advantage for this fight. Magny will out-grapple Condit, break him down, and ultimately defeat him.

    Winner: Neil Magny, Submission, Round 3

    Robert Winfree: The big question here is if the layoff has affected Condit, or if his desire to fight is still burning and he’s here to kill someone rather than just collect a pay check. If Condit is here to make a statement, this likely goes badly for Magny. Condit’s takedown defense has long been a liability, but Magny isn’t a terribly strong takedown artist and will be relying on getting the clinch to trip Condit up rather than a powerful blast double leg. On the feet Magny has improved a lot in terms of fighting at range but he still struggles against guys with firepower who know how to counter his skipping stone style jabs. I’m leaning towards Condit, though I’m not counting out Magny by any stretch of the imagination.

    Winner: Carlos Condit, TKO, Round 1

    Dan Plunkett: I’m in Robert’s camp here in that Condit seems like a big question mark to me. When we last saw him sixteen months ago, he seemed done. It wasn’t that Demian Maia sliced through Condit so easily on the ground in that fight (Maia would do similar work to most welterweights on the roster), but rather how Maia hurt Condit badly with a nondescript elbow, which is the type of shot Condit would typically eat without losing his wits. Of course, one fight doesn’t necessarily mean that a fighter is washed up, and getting rocked by one strike doesn’t mean their chin is shot. After all, just months prior to that fight, we saw Condit walk through tremendous shots and find himself on the losing end of an extremely close decision against Robbie Lawler for the welterweight championship. However, after the Maia fight, we saw Condit question his performance to the point that he strongly contemplated retirement, and only made his decision to return a year later. That isn’t the best sign.

    At his best, Condit is a handful for any welterweight. He’s skilled everywhere, and he never stops attacking you. Even if you’re a strong wrestler, typically the type of fighter Condit has trouble with, it’s a long, long night in the cage with Condit. Until the Maia elbow, Condit had never shown any semblance of breaking in the cage, even against the fiercest hitters.

    If this fight were happening in 2015, I’d have no hesitation in picking Condit. Magny is a bit rangier (and the lanky Condit hasn’t had many fights against someone of Magny’s size), but Condit is more skilled on the feet and on the ground, and has been tough enough to fight at a high pace well past the point of exhaustion. However, it’s tough to know where Condit is at physically and mentally, as well as whether his time off will hurt him. The last time he returned from a long break, it took him a bit to get back into a rhythm. For those reasons, I’m picking Magny.

    Winner: Magny, Decision

    The staff picks Neil Magny, 2-1.

    Strawweight Bout: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza

    Jeffrey Harris: Cynthia Cavillo is definitely a surging prospect for the strawweight division, and she faces a tough test in the former champion Carla Esparza, who is coming off a win over Maryna Moroz. I like this fight a lot, and I think Esparza is a good challenge to analyze Cavillo’s skills and see where she is at right now. I like Cavillo here, but Esparza does have good wrestling and grappling to bring to this bout. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was close.

    Winner: Cynthia Calvillo, Decision

    Robert Winfree: Cynthia Calvillo is the surging prospect here while Esparza has apparently fallen off of a cliff since losing part of her soul to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Esparza was never the most diverse fighter in the world but she’s become totally one dimensional over the course of her last few fights, if she wins this it’s because she can force the takedown and then stop the scrambles of Calvillo and I just don’t think she can do that.

    Winner: Cynthia Calvillo, Submission, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: Esparza’s game hinges on her ability to take her opponents down and remain on top. Although her reputation took a hit with her one-sided loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015, that game has been hugely successful for Esparza. She only has two losses in the past six years, and one of those was a split decision that could have easily gone her way. Don’t be fooled into thinking Esparza is just a notable name for Cynthia Calvillo to add to her list as she rises toward a title shot. I lean very slightly toward Calvillo in this fight because she has more tools to work with, but Esparza will push her and make her earn her spot.

    Winner: Calvillo, Decision

    The staff picks Cynthia Calvillo, 3-0.

    Lightweight Bout: Dan Hooker vs. Marc Diakiese

    Jeffrey Harris: Dan Hooker, TKO, Round 1
    Robert Winfree: Marc Diakiese, TKO, Round 1
    Dan Plunkett: Diakiese, TKO, Round 2
    The staff picks Marc Diakiese, 2-1.

    Lightweight Bout: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Edson Barboza

    Jeffrey Harris: Hopefully, there are no issues with Khabib Nurmagomedov making it to this fight, and he will safely make weight. Edson Barboza is a good fighter with great striking, but the blueprint to beat him is clear. Use pressure and aggression, and it tends to make him wilt. Nurmagomedov should be able to handle that. The main issue here is that Nurmagomedov ended up not fighting at all throughout 2017 until this fight got signed. Edson Barboza has definitely made improvements in his game as of late, so this is also his chance to prove he can be at the contender level. I see Nurmagomedov’s wrestling and takedowns making the difference.

    Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Decision

    Robert Winfree: If I still got excited about fights, this would be the one that got my blood pumping on this card. Edson Barboza is on a career best run, he’s done a tremendous job of addressing the holes in his game and possesses some of the most incredible knockouts in the division. On the other side we have Khabib Nurmagomedov who’s maybe the best wrestler/grappler in the sport, he has relentless takedowns and the best ride game in the sport now that Ben Askren has retired. If this takes place on the feet, Barboza will be winning because of his crisper striking and power but if this hits the clinch or the mat he’s going to get rag dolled and worn down by Nurmagomedov. I can see either man winning this but I generally feel better picking Nurmagomedov.

    Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Submission, Round 2

    Dan Plunkett: This is an excellent fight. Nurmagomedov is a special talent. His grappling is unreal, but he has shown some vulnerabilities on the feet. Barboza is a quick, smart, and dangerous striker, with kicks that have felled many opponents. This is a game of Nurmagomedov’s wrestling against Barboza’s takedown defense and his counters off of Nurmagomedov’s takedown attempts. I pick Nurmagomedov’s wrestling in that clash, but a Barboza knockout win is very possible.

    Winnner: Nurmagomedov, TKO, Round 3

    The staff picks Khabib Nurmagomedov, 3-0.

    UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship Bout: Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm

    Jeffrey Harris: I will at least give Holly Holm props for stepping up to take this fight. Not even the woman who defeated her for the UFC women’s featherweight title was willing to step into the Octagon for Cris Justino, even though it probably would’ve been the biggest payday of her career. But Germaine de Randamie opted to commit career suicide. Justino ended up winning the belt anyway, and here we are. Holm is still the biggest one-hit wonder the sport has ever seen. I don’t see her physically being able to put up with Cyborg. Holm does best when she’s able to fight at distance and keep her opponents at kickboxing range. I don’t think she will be able to deal with Cyborg’s aggression or power. Eventually, she will go down.

    Winner: Cris “Cyborg” Justino, TKO, Round 3

    Robert Winfree: This is one of the best women’s fights that can be made, and these two match up in some very interesting ways. Cyborg hasn’t fought a talented striker in MMA since she bulldozed Gina Carano years ago and whatever her other short comings may be, Holm is a very talented striker. Holm struggles a bit with fighters who are quick counter strikers or able to mix up the different aspects of MMA and can force her out of her comfort range. If Cyborg is reckless with her aggression she could wind up falling into straight counters and chasing Holm while getting picked apart, but Cyborg has done a good job over the last few years of improving her footwork so she isn’t just a linear bull and while this is the stiffest test of that growth she’ll likely face in her career I think she likely forces this fight to the mat and gets the job done there.

    Winner: Cris “Cyborg” Justino, TKO, Round 4

    Dan Plunkett: I believe that Holly Holm is the best opponent Cris Cyborg has ever faced in MMA by a considerable margin. That’s exciting because it may allow us to see parts of Cyborg’s game that we have never seen before, but it doesn’t mean that Holm is going to expose Cyborg as a product of hype built on years of feasting on weak opponents. The Cyborg that we’ve seen in recent years is a skilled and patient striker that has a strong sense of when she is able to overwhelm her opponents with a unbridled assault. In July, Cyborg took an overmatched Tonya Evinger into the third round before stopping her. It’s not that Cyborg didn’t have the ability to finish the fight earlier. If she’d had the urge to do so, she probably could have forced a finish early in the first round. Instead, she chose to be patient and avoid any foolish mistakes that an all-out attack might yield.

    Holm is a refined kickboxer and will likely try to play just outside of Cyborg’s range. However, she must deal with what will likely be a significant strength disadvantage, as well as a dangerous attack if she finds herself on her back. That is in addition to Cyborg’s proficient striking, particularly on the inside. Ultimately, I see Holm sticking in there, but Cyborg’s power will be too jarring to overcome.

    Winner: Cyborg, Decision

    The staff picks Cris Cyborg, 3-0.

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