LAS VEGAS -- She may have needed all 25 minutes to seal the deal, but Cris Cyborg is still the UFC featherweight champion.
Cyborg pressured Holm for the entire five-round affair, using power and aggression to beat Holm up on the feet. Landing the first punches of the fight, Cyborg went to Holm’s signature head-kick technique throughout the contest, methodically walking the challenger down and forcing the clinch against the fence, where she repeatedly landed knees to the midsection.
Despite Cyborg’s striking and Octagon control, it was Holm who took the first two rounds on the judges’ scorecards, racing around the Octagon while unloading her own arsenal of kicks and punching combinations. But as the fight progressed to the championship rounds, Cyborg continued her onslaught, landing heavy punches, snapping Holm’s head back with hooks.
Awarded the UFC 219 Fight of the Night, Cyborg and Holm both showed their championship mettle, but in the end it was Cyborg who took the bout 49-46, 48-47, 48-47.
In the evening’s co-main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov put on a mixed martial arts masterclass, completely dominating and dismantling Edson Barboza.
Known for his wrestling, grappling, and top control, Nurmagomedov charged Barboza from the opening bell, pressuring inside to secure the clinch, eventually bringing the fight to the ground in every round. Once on the mat, Nurmagomedov, who earned a Performance of the Night bonus, demolished Barboza with nonstop ground and pound, completely destroying the acclaimed striker.
Nurmagomedov, who was out of action for 13 months before UFC 219, used every second of his 15 minutes inside the Octagon to solidify his case for a lightweight title shot. Now 25-0, and 9-0 in the UFC, Nurmagomedov continues to improve, looking more and more dominant with every outing.
“That was my most dominant performance to date,” offered Nurmagomedov. “I feel that I am the most dominant fighter in the UFC today. I am 25-0 and that is the real belt. Conor [McGregor] and Tony [Ferguson] are nothing. It does not matter to me which one I get next. If the UFC will allow me, I will fight them both in the same night.”
A late addition to the main card, lightweights Dan Hooker and Marc Diakiese started off slow, drawing boos and jeers from the T-Mobile Arena crowd during a rather inactive first round.
With Hooker slightly edging Diakiese in the first period, he showed more offense in the second frame, bringing the fight to the ground and controlling most of the round while searching for the rear-naked choke.
Unable to finish the fight in the second, Hooker found his opening in the third, capitalizing on a Diakiese takedown attempt gone wrong by sinking in a near-perfect guillotine choke. With no escape, Diakiese tapped out just 42 seconds into the third round.
“He went for a shoddy takedown and I snatched his neck,” explained Hooker. “I feel like I’ve had a lot of gatekeeper fights and I’m proving that I am not the gatekeeper, I’m the real deal ... I want to fight everyone, no shortcuts to easy fights.”
For the first time in her UFC career, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza notched back-to-back wins inside the Octagon, taking a close decision over the previously undefeated Cynthia Calvillo.
Esparza started off slow, spending the majority of the first round on her back after Calvillo landed a takedown. Punching and elbowing from the bottom, Esparza not only outlanded Calvillo in the first, but managed to get the best of a wild grappling exchange to close out the frame.
Down on the scorecards going into the second, Esparza then used her striking to set up takedowns for the final 10 minutes, landing punches and low kicks before moving into the clinch. Calvillo did her part to keep the fight competitive, going punch for punch throughout the contest, but Esparza did enough to take the fight on all three judges’ scorecards.
“Everyone thinks of me more as a wrestler but it was the gameplan to beat her on the feet tonight. I’ve been working with my team on striking for a while now and I think the low kick was really effective in this fight,” commented Esparza. “There was a lot of hype around Cynthia coming into the fight but that just served more as a motivator for me. I may not be a trash talker but I prove myself each time I fight.”
Kicking off the main card, welterweight Neil Magny returned to the win column with a unanimous decision over former interim titleholder Carlos Condit.
An underdog going into the fight, Magny showed serious improvements in his wrestling game to out-muscle Condit and bring the bout to the mat. When on the feet, Magny used his size and length advantage to keep distance and land a bevy of low and body kicks.
Still, Condit kept it competitive on the feet, landing flurries of punches and kicks on occasion. However, it wasn’t enough, as Magny repeatedly forced the clinch and took Condit down.
“Carlos Condit is one of the best ever and a former champion so I knew how tough he would be,” stated Magny. “I worked hard in camp and made the most of my opportunities in the cage tonight. I’ve had a tumultuous year so, to end it this way, I feel great.”
UFC 219 Official Results
- Cris Cyborg def. Holly Holm via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)**
- Khabib Nurmagomedov* def. Edson Barboza via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-24)
- Dan Hooker def. Marc Diakiese via tapout (guillotine choke) R3, 0:42
- Carla Esparza def. Cynthia Calvillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Neil Magny def. Carlos Condit via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Khalil Rountree via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Myles Jury def. Rick Glenn via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Marvin Vettori and Omari Akhmedov fight to a majority draw (28-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Matheus Nicolau def. Louis Smolka via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
- Tim Elliott* def. Mark De La Rosa via tapout (anaconda choke) R2, 1:41
** denotes Fight of the Night
* denotes Performance of the Night