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UFC 219: Cris Cyborg beats Holly Holm to retain featherweight title

Image result for UFC 219: Cris Cyborg beats Holly Holm to retain featherweight title
Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino - known to the MMA world simply as Cris Cyborg - cemented her position as the world’s premier female featherweight fighter with a hard-earned unanimous decision victory over former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm after five high-octane rounds at UFC 219 in Las Vegas.

Holm started impressively, using her footwork well as she effectively counter-struck the champion in the early stages of the contest, working well off the back foot as two of the three judges scored the first two rounds to the challenger.

But as the fight wore on, Cyborg’s power began to take over as she started to read Holm’s attacks and walk down the challenger, punishing her with heavy punches and kicks.

Both women showcased their durability and conditioning as they traded shots for the full 25-minute duration as their five-round title fight went all the way to the scorecards.

And, when the judges rendered their verdict, their scores told the story of a closely-contested matchup, with the champion taking the unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 48-47, 48-47 to take her career record to 19-1 (1 no contest).

“I want to say thank you to Holly Holm,” said Cyborg after the bout.

“She’s an amazing fighter and she did really well here.”

The world champion said she’d next like to face the fighter who succeeded her as the Invicta featherweight champion when she left to join the UFC.

“I would like to fight somebody at 145lb. Maybe fight Megan Anderson in Australia,” she suggested. “I have a lot of fans down there.”

Nurmagomedov calls for Ferguson after battering Barboza
In the night’s co-main event, Russian one-man wrecking crew Khabib Nurmagomedov extended his perfect professional career to 25-0 with a three-round battering of No.4-ranked lightweight contender Edson Barboza.

Barboza has a well-earned reputation as one of the division’s best strikers but Nurmagomedov closed the distance with ease, taking the Brazilian to the mat and pummelling him with strikes in the first round.

Nurmagomedov dished out more of the same in the second frame, as he showcased his ground fighting dominance with another 10-8 round.

And while Barboza was able to land a spectacular spinning kick to the Russian’s head in the third and final round, Nurmagomedov just walked straight through it and continued his relentless assault on his way to a landslide decision win.

The judges scored the fight 30-25, 30-25, 30-24 to hand the Russian the 25th win of his career and his eighth straight win in the UFC as he told commentator Joe Rogan he’s ready to face either of the UFC’s lightweight belt-holders: "If you give me one hour rest, I can fight Tony or Conor, no problem."

But while many fans are clamouring to see Nurmagomedov face McGregor next, ‘The Eagle’ said if he had the opportunity to choose, he’d pick interim champ Ferguson, saying a bout with undisputed lightweight champ Conor McGregor is unlikely to happen until McGregor “spends all his money”.

Hooker catches Diakiese
It was a disappointing night for British lightweight prospect Marc Diakiese, who fell to his second straight defeat in the octagon with a third-round submission loss to New Zealand's Dan Hooker.

The pair contested a cagey first two rounds, with both men showing each other a lot of respect as they carefully looked to engineer openings. But the third round saw the contest open up, as Diakiese pushed forward, landing some solid punches on his opponent.

But, after a combination had forced Hooker back against the cage fence, the Brit shot in for a takedown attempt and was promptly locked up in a guillotine choke, forcing Diakiese to tap out 42 seconds into the final round.

Decisions, decisions
Former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza produced a gritty performance to come from behind and defeat previously unbeaten prospect Cynthia Calvillo by unanimous decision. Calvillo started the better of the two, dominating the opening round, but the former world champ came back strongly in the second round to level things up, then edged the final frame to earn the nod from the judges.

In the opening fight of the night, Neil Magny delivered an excellent performance to ensure that Carlos Condit’s long-awaited return after an 14-month absence ended in defeat. Magny dictated terms for long periods of the contest, scoring a host of takedowns to earn a unanimous decision victory, the 20th of his professional career.

On a night where finishes were at a premium, the fight card delivered eight decisions from 10 contests.

Kicking off 2018
UFC 219 closed out the UFC in 2017, but the action will come thick and fast in the New Year, starting in St Louis, Missouri, as featherweight knockout artists Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi kick things off on 14 January.

Then all eyes will turn to UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts on 20 January as the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion of the world Stipe Miocic will look to become the first fighter to defend the title three times when he faces Cameroonian Francis Ngannou, who knocked out Alistair Overeem in devastating fashion at UFC 218 to book himself into a title fight.

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