Cris Cyborg vs Holly Holm
Betting odds: Cyborg -322 or 1/4, Holm +320 or 3/1
Until November 15th of 2015, the only name in the women’s division that carried any interest was Ronda Rousey. She was marketed by Dana White as “the female version” of Mike Tyson and then Holly Holm changed the entire landscape of women’s mixed martial arts.
Despite being a +700 (7/1) underdog she outclassed Rousey for five minutes and then landed perhaps now the most famous head kick of all time to put an end to the Rousey pop culture movement.
Soon after Holm discovered the weight of the crown is no easy burden to bear suffering three straight losses after previously being undefeated. Most recently Holm got back to winning ways taking out Bethe Correia with that same trademark left head kick and some punches to follow.
Being the underdog is a situation that brings the best out of Holly Holm, however, unlike the Rousey fight in which she had little to lose and plenty to gain the fight with Cyborg is dangerous so there’s still lots to gain but also serious consequences in losing.
Cris Cyborg has a high finish rate which means it’s likely if she wins it will be a KO or TKO but more importantly, Holm’s record would be reduced to 1-4 in her last 5 fights putting her UFC career on the ropes.
Cyborg has been around for a long time, before the Gina Carano era, before the Ronda Rousey era, and she’s still here.
A twelve-year career started way back in 2005 around the time Chuck Liddell was putting MMA on the map in terms of mainstream media coverage.
Since her only loss on her MMA debut Cyborg has been undefeated in 19 fights, out of those 19 only 2 have gone the full distance. It’s rare to see a female fighter with genuine one punch knockout power, Cyborg is one of the lucky few who has the ability to switch anyone’s lights out.
Her performances in the octagon have been faultless, the biggest problem she’s had is a lack of consistent opponents of the highest quality due to the shortage of 145lb fighters in women’s MMA.
Holly Holm is without a doubt her most skilled opponent to date, Holly’s also physically big so the size advantage isn’t so favourable for Cyborg. All of this combined provides the ideal platform Cyborg needed to put some legitimacy on her record.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza
Betting Odds: Khabib -265 or 4/11, Barboza +246 or 9/4
The UFC Lightweight division is ripe with talent, the top five is the strongest of any weight class.
This fight brings two of those top five together, Khabib Nurmagomedov who is ranked #2 looks to extend his undefeated record to 25-0 against #4 ranked Edson Barboza.
Although the weight division contains many worthy contenders to Conor McGregor’s title the champion is in no hurry to return and defend the belt. Tony Ferguson in his stead has earned an interim title which would naturally make him the number one contender.
All is not simple when making a McGregor fight these days as Conor want’s the type of contest that will excel from a commercial standpoint to get himself the biggest cheque, being such a singular entity amongst the rest of the roster means he can demand things other fighters can’t.
Considering Khabib has the biggest fanbase out of all the possible challengers he could get himself the prize ticket in the McGregor sweepstakes if he can get past Edson Barboza.
If McGregor doesn’t return anytime soon there’s also a possibility the cursed fight between Ferguson & Khabib can be scheduled for the fourth time to produce a clear-cut option for a title fight.
Khabib is stylistically the worst match-up for McGregor because he is a strong wrestler with a powerful top game. His stand up is somewhat of a weakness, we saw in the fight with Michael Johnson how he is vulnerable to strikes but if you don’t take him out he will get you down and punish you from that position.
Edson Barboza provides a similar threat to Khabib as the one he’d be facing against McGregor, on the feet which is where every round of the fight will start Barboza is extremely dangerous. Recognised for his shocking highlight reel finishes, the skill deficit standing is as wide in favour of Barboza as the skill deficit on the floor is in favour of Khabib.
Another clear advantage for Barboza is the frequency he’s been fighting with, Khabib’s record is flawless but he’s been inactive compared to the rest of the lightweight roster. Since September 2013 Khabib has competed four times compared to Barboza’s ten.
Barboza has been working his way through respected names in the weight class since losing to the now interim champion Tony Ferguson. Khabib would unquestionably be the biggest victory of his career.
Under The Spotlight
Cynthia has been getting some well-deserved attention due to her wicked ground game and the charisma she’s shown on the microphone. She has a nice spot on this PPV card to further enhance her reputation and the right style of opponent in Carla Esparza to help her do so.
Cris Cyborg vs Holly Holm (Cyborg KO/TKO)
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza (Khabib TKO)
Cynthia Calvillo vs Carla Esparza (Calvillo Decision)
Carlos Condit vs Neil Magny (Condit KO/TKO)
Dan Hooker vs Mark Diakiese (Diakiese Decision)