Date: Sunday 31st December, 3am (UK)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Cris Cyborg makes the first defence of her UFC featherweight title in what has to be the toughest assignment of her career so far in Holly Holm. This is really the only fight the UFC could make as the new division is virtually empty with Germaine de Randamie passing on the opportunity to fight Cyborg. Although Holm is moving back up from bantamweight, many believe she has the best chance of toppling one of the most dominant female fighters of all time.
Cyborg is 18-1 (1 NC) in her career and despite losing her first fight she has obliterated all of her opponents with 16 knockouts displaying her brutal power and strength. She relies on these attributes to intimidate and run through her victims but now under the tutelage of Jason Parillo she has evolved from an out and out brawler to one with lethal technique with Parillo referring to Cyborg as the Mike Tyson of MMA.
Holm bounced back spectacularly from three straight losses with a glorious question mark kick knockout over Bethe Correia but will still be a heavy underdog going into this fight. However, on paper she poses the biggest threat to Cyborg. She is calm, composed and a potent counter striker which is the best approach to take against someone who presses forward with a size and power advantage.
Holm also has championship pedigree as a multiple time Boxing champion and importantly as a UFC champion. She claimed the belt from another fighter who many felt couldn’t be beat in Ronda Rousey. Regarding this fight, her agile footwork and movement will be crucial to avoiding the power strikes and clinch attempts of Cyborg who has nasty Muay Thai, delivering damage whenever she gets near her opponents.
So together with her coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, they will apply a meticulous game plan as usual to combat the beast but so will Cyborg’s camp as they know Holm is her biggest threat. This will be such an intriguing match-up between the pressure and power of Cyborg and the technique and athleticism of Holm.
The fight promises to be closer than the stats suggest as Holm has had four more UFC fights – all against elite competition. Cyborg is the more accomplished grappler but both ladies will opt to stand and trade with the key stats being Holm’s striking defence and Cyborg’s accuracy.
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.