Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm was billed as a super fight for the ages at UFC 219 and boy, was it ever a super fight.
Holm battled valiantly against the Brazilian legend but in the end suffered the same fate as all 19 of Cyborg’s victims on one of the most historic winning streaks in the history of mixed martial arts.
Two of the three judges scored two rounds for Holm. That’s two more than any woman has won against her since a loss in her professional debut 12 years ago.
Cyborg remained perfect in the UFC with beautiful technique, toughness and a performance that certainly made the entire nation of Brazil proud.
These are the UFC 219 talking points
Cyborg enters next level of stardom
The trek to the main event of one of the UFC’s biggest cards of the year was a daunting one for Cyborg. Her greatness forced the creation of a division that she’s dominated but one that lacks depth of contenders. Holm proved to be the perfect test as Cyborg shined on the biggest stage.
Next another super fight with current bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes or a true 145-pound clash with Megan Anderson awaits the undisputed featherweight queen.
Cyborg has arrived and her star has never shined so bright.
Holm shocks the world in defeat
Thank you @HollyHolm for giving WMMA one of the historic matchups that the fans have been asking for! God bless! @ufc pic.twitter.com/E7STAbOIQV
— #UFC219 PPV is tonight (@criscyborg) December 31, 2017
A scan of social media after Holm’s disappointing loss to Cyborg returned a slew of impressed fans and fighters. Holm went up 10 pounds to take on the most devastating striker in women’s MMA history.
She may have come up short but her performance was superb, her game plan was inspired.
Where does Holm go from here? She’s never faced bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and “The Lioness” could use her next challenger.
Suffocating Khabib continues onslaught on lightweight division
At the end of the first round, Edson Barboza rose from his back to his knees, his face was battered and it looked like he just finished a 25-minute war.
That was just five minutes with No. 2-ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Every time Nurmagomedov steps into the Octagon he somehow manages to raise the bar for himself and increase the awe all of us share when we watch him dominate. He now stands at 25-0 and has yet to face any real trouble in his professional career.
Next seems like a sure bet that he faces Tony Ferguson in a fight that has been booked three times but has yet to materialize. A future bout with Conor McGregor in Russia would do historic numbers. But at UFC 219, Nurmagomedov made his case as scariest lightweight on the planet.
Esparza seizes massive opportunity
It seems like a lifetime ago after the legendary championship reign of Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but Carla Esparza is just three years removed from being the inaugural strawweight champion.
“The Cookie Monster’s” win over rising prospect Cynthia Calvillo gives Esparza her first win streak in the UFC and sets her up right behind the top 5 of the division. Oh yeah, Espasrza also holds a win over current champion Rose Namajunas. She thinks that fact puts her in the conversation for a title shot.
Future still bright for Calvillo
It’s hard to believe that Calvillo is only seven fights into her professional career. The Team Alpha Male product has taken the UFC by storm and finished her fourth fight of 2017 at UFC 219.
Sometimes a loss is a chance to slow things down and this setback may be something Calvillo looks back at years down the line as a blessing in disguise.
As she continues to evolve as a mixed martial artist her game is going to get better. With the elite of the division like Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade right above her in the rankings, it may be a good turn of events to take on a few other fighters at 115 before stepping into the deep end of the pool.
Calvillo is going to be around for a long time. There’s no rush.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrino