With UFC 219 just around the corner, it’s time to make some predictions!
Below is a list of my picks and quick breakdowns for tomorrow’s main card.
Cris Cyborg v. Holly Holm
I’m a sucker for an underdog, especially when that underdog is Holly Holm. Along with being one of the best female boxers of all time, Holm has cemented herself as one of the top dogs in women’s mixed martial arts. Pulling off what was probably the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history with her headkick KO of Ronda Rousey, Holm is a pure athlete with talent for days. Despite a few wobbles along the way after her loss to Miesha Tate, Holm came back against Bethe Correira showing patience and self control to finish the fight with a stunning knockout. Facing an opponent like Cyborg is no easy feat for Holm, however, Holm is a counterstriker and I can’t help but predict that Cyborg will have a tough time “smashing” Holly as she’s used to which may cause her to rush forward in frustration, allowing Holm to slip in with a fight-ending shot.
Holm – 4th Round TKO
Khabib Nurmagomedov v. Edson Barboza
After severe weight issues in March, causing his UFC 209 bout against Tony Ferguson to be scrapped, Khabib is back! Making weight at 155.5 lbs this morning, Khabib is looking in top form which may be bad news for Barboza. My main point (or person) of reference for this prediction is Michael Johnson. Although both men have fought and felt the power of Johnson, only one survived – Khabib. After watching Khabib’s complete domination of Johnson on the ground, it’s hard not to see this fight going the exact same way. I think Khabib is going to do what he does best, take Barboza down and finish
Nurmagomedov – 3rd Round Submission
Dan Hooker v. Marc Diakiese
Following his first professional loss back in July, 2017, Marc Diakese is back to face Dan Hooker in a lightweight bout moved to the main card after the Rivera/Lineker fiasco. Before his loss to Drakkar Klose, Diakiese was on an eleven fight win streak, 7 of those ending in finishes. This impressive record and showy striking style has gained Diakiese some attention from the media and he is still seen as a hot prospect in the UFC. On Saturday night, I predict that Diakiese will keep his distance against Hooker, who is no stranger to knocking opponents out. If Diakiese times his shots well and uses his somewhat overlooked wrestling skills, he should be back on track to start making his way back up the lightweight rankings.
Marc Diakese – Decision
Cynthia Calvillo v. Carla Esparza
After a phenomenal 2017, Cynthia Cavillo has upped her game to face the first ever UFC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza. With 4 wins already this year, Calvillo may be in the running for fighter of the year if she manages to defeat the former champ Esparza. It’s no secret that the organisation is pushing for Calvillo to get a title shot in the near future. However, Esparza, who has already defeated current champion Rose Namajunas, could be the woman to end the hype train. Although it’s been a rocky road since losing the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2014, Esparza has the champion mentality and experience which Calvillo hasn’t faced before. I see Esparza pushing Calvillo against the cage and dominating in the clinch to hand the rising star her first defeat in the octagon.
Carla Esparza – Decision
Carlos Condit v. Neil Magny
Somewhat flying under the radar, the first fight on the main card is set to be a thriller. “The Natural Born Killer”, Condit is set to make his return to the octagon following a brief retirement after his defeat to Demian Maia back in August 2016. He is facing Neil Magny, also coming off a loss to former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. Although Magny could give Condit some trouble on the ground, there is no doubt that Condit has learned from the Maia fight and should be able to neutralise any takedown attempts. Despite coming off two losses, Condit is a fighter at heart and this is what should get his hand raised on Saturday night. His title fight with Lawler was a pure brawl and many people argue that he should have won the welterweight title that night. His last win came against Thiago Alves back in 2015. This fight showed that once he gets in the groove, Condit is comfortable on the big stage, and comfortable causing damage. I see Condit’s tricky combinations and violent mentality as the two main factors for him to win Saturday’s bout.
Carlos Condit – 2nd Round TKO